The large numbers of migrants in the Calais ‘jungle’ camp have been causing major disturbances to services through the Channel Tunnel in recent days. This has involved hundreds of migrants charging the perimeter fencing and gaining access to the tracks; actions that not only endanger their lives, but those of other people as well.
This cannot be allowed to continue. In the summer our government provided considerable support to the French authorities to help with their policing of the situation. This has included providing high security fencing to give better protection to the tunnel, and establishing a joint command centre for operations by the French and British police. The French government has also increased the numbers of their police operating at the tunnel, yet clearly more needs to be done. The effective protection of the Channel Tunnel at Coquelles is the main responsibility of the French authorities, and we should stand ready to offer any assistance they require, including sending the army to help reinforce the security there.
The Mayor of Calais has also called on the French government to introduce tougher sanctions on people who are trying to break into the Channel Tunnel area. This has to be the right thing to do. If after an individual claims asylum they commit a criminal office, they can lose the right to remain in the country whilst their application is processed. People who seek to gain entry to the Channel Tunnel by means of trespass and criminal damage should also understand that they could lose their rights to claim asylum. Currently, the French authorities will just detain anyone they catch trying to break in, and then they are allowed to return to the camp, so that they can try again another day.
With winter approaching there also needs to be a united effort to close down the Calais Jungle by processing the asylum claims of those there, and including them in the European Union’s settlement scheme which determines in which country they should receive support. It cannot be right that people are allowed to camp out in appalling conditions, with the authorities just sitting back and hoping that they will go away. More needs to be done as well to process the asylum claims of migrants as they enter European Union, rather than allowing people to continue to make treacherous journeys across the continent, often at the mercy of people smugglers and criminal gangs.
Last week I spoke in the House of Commons on the debate on the Immigration Bill which will give the government new powers to crack down on rogue landlords and employers who seek to exploit people who have arrived in the UK without legal status, and who have not applied for either asylum or any right to remain in the country. The Bill will also give additional powers to the Border Force to board any vessel crossing the Channel if they believe that it may be smuggling people into the country.
You can read my full speech here: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2015-10-13a.195.0&s=speaker%3A24744#g222.2