New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: It is unusual for my hon. Friend to reach this stage in the presentation of any of his multifarious Bills without making some reference in depth to the European Union. Will he explain what measures other European Union countries take when people overstay or enter illegally?

[Mr Christopher Chope: Without having researched that in detail, and based upon my experience as Chairman of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, my answer is that practice varies significantly from one country to another. Some make being an illegal immigrant a criminal offence, but others do not. There is no uniform practice across the European Union – ]

Dr Lewis: So we cannot blame it for this one.

[Mr Chope: I think that responsibility for this rests solely with the United Kingdom. While wearing the hat that I have just described, I have come across a lot of evidence of organised criminal networks bringing people into our country illegally. The networks are usually based overseas and take very large sums from often very unfortunate migrants. Once the migrants get here, they can be assured that they are here with impunity, because they will be able to lie low and will not be subject to any criminal sanctions. That gives them a perverse incentive to come to the United Kingdom rather than go to another European country where the rules are stricter and being there without authority gives rise to criminal penalties and sanctions.]