Examination of Witnesses (Questions 30
TUESDAY 13 JUNE 2000
20. Without documents?
(Mr Boys Smith) To board the train in circumstances
where if you show the domestic ticket, yes, you do not need international
21. And the French police have no power to throw
anybody off the train unless they are committing a criminal offence.
(Mr Boys Smith) That is broadly the position, but
we are obviously in touch with the French authorities as well
as with Eurostar to see what we can do to work on this.
22. A straightforward way in has been to buy,
say, a single ticket to Calais and stay on the train. What are
you doing to stop that and when will you have stopped it?
(Mr Boys Smith) I cannot say when we will have stopped
it. We are in discussions with the French, with whomI would
want to emphasisewe co-operate extremely closely, both
on these issues as on the operational ones that you yourselves
have seen at Dover. We are in discussion with them and we are
in discussion with Eurostar themselves. There are a number of
possibilities, none of which
23. Could you give me one or two?
(Mr Boys Smith) One would be to control the movement
between carriages designated for domestic passengers and those
designated for international passengers. That is not quite the
same as shutting them off as there are safety implications, but
those are the sorts of issues that we are discussing. I can assure
you that we are discussing them
24. However, 800 illegal entrants a month is
a matter where there is a great deal of urgency. What needs to
be doneand can you comment on thisis for our own
people in France, firstly, not to permit upon the train at any
stage those who do not have the full travel documents for England
and, secondly, those who want an internal ticket to stop at Calais
to be put in a different part of the train from those who do not.
Can that not be done soon?
(Mr Boys Smith) No, if I may say so. You say "our
people in France" but we do not yet have juxtaposed controls;
we have the agreement, which I mentioned to Mr Singh, that the
Home Secretary and M. Cheve"nement signed just recently.
Full juxtaposed controls equivalent to the one at Coquelles will
not come in for about 12 months.
25. Do you mean we have got 12 more months of
800 illegal entrants a month without being able to stop it?
(Mr Boys Smith) No, I do not think we have 12 more
months of that. As I say, we are making progress in discussions
with the French and with Eurostar. If I may say so, it is not
the case that all these people are coming in off Calais stoppers,
some of them are also coming in on the international trains, perhaps
presenting forgeries at the other end which are not identifiable.
So the problem is not one confined to the Calais stopper trains.
We will press head with these discussions with the French, I think
we will make progress and I think, if I may say so, the Committee
would get the wrong impression if they thought that we were at
logger-heads with the French, who have
26. No, I have never suggested that.
(Mr Boys Smith)co-operated and done a whole
series of things, some of them extremely important to uslike,
for example, prosecution of facilitators at Calais.
27. If I could add, would I be wrong in saying
that over the last two or three years, possibly longer, those
who wish to gain entry illegally to this country have had the
simplest of tasks in buying a single to Calais, without any document
necessarily, and simply arriving at Waterloo?
(Mr Boys Smith) That is an avenue presently open,
which is why we are treating it with the urgency that you yourself
have referred to.
28. I hope you are. Over the last two years
I have not had a sense of urgency.
(Mr Boys Smith) I think we have made considerable
progress with the French. For example, in advance of the implementation
of juxtaposed controls there are the informal checks that they
make, entirely on our behalfat their costto examine
the documents of people joining, if you like, the international
bit of the train.
29. Will you have cracked this problem in 12
(Mr Boys Smith) I cannot say that we will crack it,
if by "cracking" you mean solving it entirely. One of
the lessons we constantly learn is that the ingenuity and pressures
will be such that people will find other ways of getting through.
I believe we will make serious progress on this and, as I say,
both at ministerial level and at official level it is being treated
urgently and there are ample discussions going on.
30. I just wanted to ask Mr Boys Smith if there
is any prospect of extending this principle of juxtaposed controls,
because it seems to me that it does make much more sense to check
passports at a point of embarkation than debarkation, if you have
a choice, and we have never had the choice before until the special
circumstances of the Channel Tunnel. If we do have the option,
for instance, on ferry ports of doing something similar, then
obviously people are not going to be allowed to stay here if they
are not allowed on the boat in the first place. Is that something
you would like to see extended? If so, do you think that the French
are likely to be sympathetic to that?
(Mr Boys Smith) I think the important thing, if I
may say by way of a preliminary to that answer, is that any changes
of that kind would take a long time to bring in. They would be
the subject of extensive international negotiationI think
much longer negotiation than was necessary to secure the agreement
to the juxtaposed controls at the Gare du Nord. They would require,
moreover, big, physical structural changes, both at Calais and,
of course, at Dover, because if we were to have that control at
Dover the French would, naturallyas they will in relation
to the trains at Waterloowant one at Dover, and substantial
reconstruction of Dover would be required. It is important to
see these things as relatively long term. Beyond that, I have
some hesitation about that. I do not want to rule it out as something
that we might want to move to, but it is really for the displacement
reason that has been alluded to already; it would be very resource-intensive,
we would have to have large numbers of staff in a rebuilt Calais
to handle this volume of traffic, and the ingenuity and, as I
say, pressure which we see so often may well only mean that having
spent many millions of pounds and having had extensive international
negotiation we ended up with a juxtaposed control in relation
to vehicles at Calais and not at Zeebrugge or elsewhere on the
coast. I think there is a real risk that we would make major financial,
resourcing and, if you like, diplomatic investment only to find
that it did not have the effect we wanted. So it is not something
to jump at, I think.
31. I take your point, but do you think there
is any strength in the complaint of the Refugee Council and others
that this decision on juxtaposed controls makes it impossible
for genuine asylum seekers to arrive in this country to seek asylum
in the first place?
(Mr Boys Smith) There is a wider point there, to which
I might return, about some comments on the 1951 Convention. I
think it is important to understand, with juxtaposed controls,
that we are talking only of France and, therefore, we are talking
of another Member State of the EU in whose borders anybody can,
of course, claim asylum. So that I think the suggestion that somehow
people are being disadvantaged in a major way by not being able
to come to the UK to claim asylum when they could perfectly well
have done so in France is an important consideration. That saidand
I am not trying to avoid a proper answer to your questionclearly,
the number of controls now in place mean that those who are not
adequately documented find it harder to get on board the various
kinds of transport, and the carriers' liability arrangements that
Mr Roberts referred to is another example of that. Again, that
links up with some of these points which the Home Secretary has
been making about the 1951 Convention.
32. Just to follow on, Mr Boys Smith, from Mr
Malins, have you done any calculations or investigations into
what percentage of people arriving at Waterloo are on Calais-stopping
(Mr Boys Smith) I think it is about 30 per cent of
the inadequately documented people.
(Mr Roberts) I think that is a reasonable stab at
the numbers. Thirty per cent are arriving on trains that stop
at Calais, and some actually gain access to that train at Calais
and there is an issue about closer liaison with the French police
to make sure that only people who are properly documented would
get on. Some get on at Gare du Nord, some get on at Lille, and
the issue Mr Malins referred to of the Calais stopping train has
been with us for some time. We have, actually, been quite pro-active.
We have put our own officers on those trains, and our very physical
presence has discouraged those who are organising this to try
elsewhere, and the French police have, themselves, taken direct
action against an organisation that was using this as a route
in. However, it remains a vulnerable route for us, for the reasons
which have already been discussed.
33. Mr Boys Smith, we do have this rather bizarre
situation which we ourselves saw in Calais where there are hundreds
of people milling around who could perfectly well seek asylum
in France if they chose to do so but have not chosen to do so
but who are trying to find the opportunity to cheat the system.
Until such time as you have got these juxtaposed controls at Gare
du Nord, you are reliant on the French authorities for processing
the entrants and examining the documents. We had a look at Dover
at the sophistication of some of the forged documents. Clearly,
your people are going to be well-briefed on the forgeries but
what about our French counterparts? Are they well-briefed, or
are you training them on the kind of forgeries you are seeing?
Are you confident they are doing a proper job there?
(Mr Boys Smith) I will ask Mr Wilson to come in in
just a second, but, yes, we do have lots of communication with
the French. Indeed, not only with the French, we work extensively
in the EU fora with issues to do with document forgery. I am not
aware that we are actually training the French.
(Mr Wilson) As you may know, the United Kingdom has
its own national forgery section which deals specifically with
forged travel documents and supporting documents which are used
to secure those documents. The French have a similar national
organisation which is based in Paris. We work, in fact, very closely
together and we are actually collaborating on a joint seminar
this July, which is part of their European Union Presidency. This
will take place in Paris in July for two days, at which the UK
will give a workshop on forgery and the most commonly held forgeries.
On the more European Union-wide front, the French are very active,
as we are, with the Dutch in delivering an annual forgery seminar,
which is a two-week exercise, which is training for experts. That
goes beyond the normal and requires border guards to go into the
expert field so that experts can deliver that training on down,
and that training takes place every year in Zutphen in the Netherlands.
It is part of a EU training programme.
34. Can we turn now to resources, Mr Boys Smith.
I have to say that everywhere we went we found the staff in the
various directorates had great big smiles on their faces, saying
that at last they felt they had got the resources they needed,
after a difficult period. Have you got the funding fixed for the
current financial year?
(Mr Boys Smith) The final figures are not exactly
worked through in terms of pounds, but we do know what the growth
in staffing will be, if it would be helpful to tell the Committee?
35. Yes, please.
(Mr Boys Smith) At April of this year, just taking
the Immigration Service as a whole (and I am rounding these figures
for convenience) there were about 2,600 people in the Immigration
Service. We expect that to grow by about 1,000 in the current
financial year. So there is a substantial growth, after a period,
I entirely accept, of absence of growth.
36. Do you feel you have got an adequate level
of funding to meet the objectives that you have set yourselves?
(Mr Boys Smith) I think we have. I should make clear
that, obviously, there are, as in any organisation, competing
priorities, and one of the priorities that ministers themselves
have made very clear is case-working on asylum, and significant
extra resources are going into that. However, we are now in a
situation where we can devote a great deal more to the border
end of the business.
37. We are very pleased to hear it. Most people
who sit where you sit tell us another story.
(Mr Boys Smith) Indeed, yes.
38. To what extent do your resource plans for
the next three years take into account the expected growth in
passenger arrivals8 million nationals from the European
area and 1 million from the non-area?
(Mr Boys Smith) They try to take that into account.
I am conscious, again, that we understand those pressures are
growing, and although we do not know quite how case-working on
asylum will go there will be constant pressure there. We have
done our best to set out plans that will take that into account
and allow us, therefore, to get on top of issues in a way that,
perhaps, has not been possible in recent years. Again, both at
the frontier and in-country.
39. I said to one of your senior colleaguesI
think it was at Doverthat with the welcome changes being
made in the back-of-lorry traffic, as it were, I said "If
I was in the people-smuggling business what would you advise me
to do next?" and he said "I would buy two landing craft
boats with powerful engines, and it is back to the beaches".
I mention that to you in order to ask, do you feel you have got
enough flexibility to cope with changes like thisyour earlier
point about the money you may spend and then find should have
(Mr Boys Smith) I think we have. I think it would
be foolish of anybody in my kind of position to say they know
with absolute confidence that for years in future they will have
enough resources to deal in the way they would like with the issues
that then present themselves, but I think we have got a lot of
flexibility in terms of the resources we haveboth for the
frontier control and for in-country enforcement. If I may say,
in parenthesis, which I think is an important point to emphasise
to the Committee, it is what happens in-country which is crucially
important to the approach taken by those seeking to get through
the frontier. In resource terms we are much better placed, and
I hope we will be adequately placed in future. Of course, in terms
of the recent legislation and the flexibility provisions that
that contains, we have now got a legal framework which will make
it much easier for us to flex according to the requirements, to
be more intelligence based and not to devote resources to those
who present no threat, for example, to immigration control. I
think that is a crucially important step forward as well.