COMMONS

MPs doubt exit checks will be in place by April

20 December 2014

The Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons has today published its report, The work of the Immigration Directorates (January-June 2014). This is part of an ongoing inquiry into all aspects of the Home Office’s immigration work.

Report

Exit Checks

  • The Minister and the Director General of Border Force have assured this Committee that there will 100% exit checks on all passengers leaving the UK by 31st March 2015. The Home Affairs Committee support the need for exit checks to know exact numbers of who is in the country, but we are concerned about the potential delays that they could cause and the risk to security that such delays bring. Any queues that develop as a result will be highly visible and could have a serious negative impact on business, trade and tourism.

Single Immigration Target

  • The single immigration target has proven to be too blunt and unwieldy and is based on factors which are out of the Government’s control. No Government of whatever political formation can control the number of people who voluntarily wish to leave the country. This raises questions about future immigration policy. An arbitrary target set by ministers, however well intentioned, only serves to reduce public confidence in the ability of any Government to deliver a future pledge on immigration.

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration

  • The Committee found it unacceptable for the Home Office to withhold from public view reports produced by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration for longer than one month without providing a good reason. Parliament and the public have a right to have access to this information in a timely manner after its compilation. The Committee should conduct the pre-appointment hearing for John Vine’s replacement when the Home Secretary selects her nominee.

Foreign national prisoners

  • Successive Governments have failed to deal with problem of foreign national prisoners and the continued poor record keeping is inexcusable. The public simply cannot understand why people convicted of a criminal offence in our country who are of different nationality are either still in the UK in prison and have not been sent back to their home country, or are at large in the community. The Home Office must provide accurate information to the Committee. Failure to do so will leave Ministers and officials open to accusation that they have been either deliberately or inadvertently misleading Parliament, a serious charge that previously led to the resignation of a Home Secretary on this very issue.

Chair's comments

Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Committee said:

"Successive governments have spent millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on the botched e-borders programme. Everyone who enters and leaves Britain must be counted in and out. Transport companies have long expressed serious doubts about meeting the Government’s timetable for exit checks. Failure to reach full checks within the planned timeframe will give rise to the twin perils of increased security risks and illegal migration.

It is incomprehensible that thousands of foreign nationals convicted of a criminal offence in the UK are either at large in the community or are not sent back to their own countries. The continued poor record keeping on these foreign national offenders is inexcusable given both the danger these people pose to the public and the huge cost to the taxpayer.

Following John Vine’s recent report, it was estimated that the number of missing migrants in the UK had reached 89,000. Added to the backlog of cases currently being dealt with at the Home Office, which is 304,222, this brings the total number of unresolved immigration cases to 393,222, which is more than the population of Cardiff. In addition to this is the Government’s missed immigration target. Our immigration system has left A&E and has entered intensive care."

Further information

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