Motion to Approve
My Lords, this order was laid before Parliament in January and is required to align the juxtaposed controls regime at the seaports of northern France with the regime currently in operation at Coquelles for the Channel Tunnel shuttle service and at the Eurostar rail terminals in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The order will replicate the legislative approach taken at the other juxtaposed control locations and enable all UK immigration legislation to be applied in the UK control zones at the ports of Calais and Dunkirk.
The security and integrity of our borders depend on the effective enforcement of our immigration controls, particularly at the UK border controls in northern France, where each year thousands of people make perilous attempts to enter the UK illegally. It is essential that Border Force officers working at our border in northern France are empowered to carry out immigration controls to the fullest extent.
As noble Lords will know, the UK has several international agreements with France that allow UK Border Force to operate border controls at specified ports in France. This allows Border Force officers to conduct checks on passengers and freight destined for the UK. It is a reciprocal arrangement, with French officers completing entry checks at certain points in the UK on passengers and freight destined for continental Europe. This form of pre-departure immigration control plays a crucial role in tackling irregular migration and disrupting organised immigration crime.
Currently, Border Force conducts juxtaposed immigration controls at the ports of Calais and Dunkirk, with the French Police aux Frontières undertaking Schengen entry checks at the UK port of Dover prior to travel. The juxtaposed controls in Calais and Dunkirk are provided for at an international level by the 2003 Le Touquet treaty. This was put into effect in the UK by the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Juxtaposed Controls) Order 2003, which I shall refer to as the 2003 order. It was made under Section 141 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.
The 2003 order granted officers of the Immigration Service, as it was then known, specified immigration powers enabling them to carry out immigration controls in specified geographical locations, known as control zones, at the northern French seaports. At that time, only the powers specified in the order were necessary for the efficient and effective conduct of immigration controls. However, the way in which Border Force operates has changed in the intervening years. Officers at Calais and Dunkirk therefore now operate with fewer powers than are available to their colleagues elsewhere.
The order under debate amends the 2003 order to grant UK Border Force officers working at the juxtaposed ports of Calais and Dunkirk the full range of immigration powers currently available to them under the Immigration Acts. This includes the power to use reasonable force, as set out in Section 146 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, which is available to their counterparts at other locations.
The order therefore empowers appropriately trained Border Force officers at the juxtaposed seaports to use reasonable force under English law when carrying out any power conferred on them by the Immigration Acts. This will enable trained Border Force staff to intervene to prevent harm where an individual’s behaviour endangers themselves, the travelling public or other Border Force staff. It will also allow trained Border Force officers to enforce compliance with immigration processes, including fingerprinting.
Border Force officers will continue to take all reasonable steps to avoid using force, as they do elsewhere, by engaging with the individual and encouraging them to comply. Reasonable force would only ever be used as a last resort where an individual repeatedly refused to co-operate with Border Force officers and such force became necessary either for health and safety reasons or to ensure that full immigration controls were completed.
This measure builds on the steps the Government have already taken to reform the immigration system, strengthen border controls and reduce illegal migration. It will strengthen Border Force’s ability to manage those who seek to frustrate our immigration processes or circumvent UK immigration controls, and it will ensure that Border Force officers are properly empowered to intervene to prevent harm. I beg to move.
My Lords, I thank my noble friend for setting out the intention and effect of the order. It seems entirely reasonable. It brings the practice and powers at the French channel ports of Calais and Dunkirk into line with the practice and process at Coquelles and at the Eurostar terminals in Belgium, France and the Netherlands. I support it.
I have some questions to ask my noble friend. Since these powers are exercised outside the United Kingdom’s jurisdiction, although they are provided for by domestic legislation, I assume that express or implied powers for Border Force officers to exercise reasonable force extraterritorially in France are contained in the provisions of the Le Touquet treaty, which my noble friend referred to. This seems highly probable, but it will be good to hear my noble friend confirm it.
Secondly, not only do we have border controls in France, but France exercises controls at the port of Dover. Do the French authorities exercise similar powers to those that we exercise in France?
Thirdly, what discussions do we have with the French authorities about these matters, both specifically on these recent issues and more generally on an ongoing basis about border controls in Calais, Dover, Dunkirk and indeed at the Eurostar terminals and at Coquelles?
The Explanatory Memorandum to the order is explicit that when the border controls were first deployed at these sea ports in 2003 the immigration powers were considered,
“sufficient to effectively administer immigration controls at these locations.”
What has changed is clearly the escalation of attempts to enter the United Kingdom illegally. I understand that—I am sure that we all do—but I would be grateful if my noble friend could update the House on the current position at Calais, Dunkirk and the surrounding area. Obviously, there is real concern in your Lordships’ House on a humanitarian level, not least because of the pandemic. Could my noble friend therefore give the House an assessment of the current position and of the longer-term outlook? I appreciate that it is bound to be a changing position and perhaps fairly volatile, but it would be good to hear how the position is at the moment.
Subject to these concerns, I strongly support what seems a very sensible provision.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for her introduction to the order. The controls proposed in it ensure consistency of controls across all the juxtaposed locations and bring these controls into line with current UK operations. Harmonising the legislative regime will allow greater efficiency and effectiveness in border control officers assessing passengers and improve the border process.
Although the international sea traffic to which the order applies currently ends in England, the territorial application remains the whole of the United Kingdom. Another consequence is that the order allows immigration officers to use the full immigration powers available to them under the Immigration Acts, leading to early intervention against individuals or groups aiming to harm the UK or undertake organised immigration crime. It also extends the use of force powers, thereby allowing Border Force officers to use reasonable force if required to enforce compliance with immigration processes.
It is right that we provide the earliest possible intervention to prevent those wishing to do us harm reaching our shores. Unfortunately, there are those who make great profit from organised immigration crime; their plans must be thwarted. At the moment, Border Force officers are not granted powers in English law to exercise force, although they have the appropriate training to do so professionally. There is evidence of numerous attempts by organised criminals to bring people into the United Kingdom illegally through northern French seaports. Thankfully, many of them are intercepted but the officers concerned need enforcement powers for when they are presented with persons who would endanger themselves and others. Serious breaches of security must not be overlooked, and officers must be granted appropriate support to carry out their duties effectively, minimise disruption and contain sensitive situations. It is therefore imperative that we use every possible tool to keep our country safe. I support the order.
My Lords, I, too, welcome the order. I place on record my thanks to my noble friend the Minister for dealing with this difficult area among the many difficult challenges she faces.
My noble friend knows as well as the rest of the House does that the problem of illegal immigration across the channel seems to be growing. I have some questions. First, one wonders why it has taken quite a long time to co-ordinate seaports with the Channel Tunnel and Eurostar. In the interim, we have seen a considerable increase in illegal cross-channel traffic. Can my noble friend elucidate on what more we can do, are doing or should be doing to crack down on this form of illegal immigration?
I am not clear whether Border Force is restricted geographically in where it can go in terms of Dunkirk and Calais; in other words, can it even operate on the beaches there? Also, does the order—I have read the whole of it—apply to the staff at ports in Belgium and the Netherlands as well? The Explanatory Memorandum states that Home Office consultation was undertaken “with operational partners”. That is good, but did any adverse reactions or difficulties come up in that consultation?
Border Force officers do a difficult job well. At the moment, is there a shortage of men and women who are fully trained for the Border Force role? Within that role, is there any resistance to being posted to Calais or Dunkirk?
If I may, I want to widen the issue a little. Can my noble friend the Minister clarify—certainly for me but also, I suspect, for a number of your Lordships—the law on turning back rubber dinghies? At what point can they be sent back to France, and are French officials co-operating fully?
I am nearly at the end of my questions. On illegal immigration, which is increasing, is there a problem coming from Belgium and the Netherlands? Is there a problem for our other east coast ports, such as Hull? While I am on the subject, my noble friend may know that I take a great interest in aviation. Is there any evidence of an increased problem with our small airports, where no Border Force officers operate?
Finally, on monitoring and review, since this illegal immigration from France is very much in the public eye, is there not a case for an annual—or biannual—review of the order’s effectiveness?
My Lords, this is a sad piece of legislation because it perpetuates the Government’s cruel and dehumanising approach to people who want to come to live, work and be safe in the UK. Instead of legislation to ensure safe passage and humanitarian assistance, we see new rules allowing Border Force agents to use physical force in northern French ports. Can this Government really not see that it is partly our fault that people are desperate to get to safety, away from war zones, drought, famine, floods and death? These horrible events happen either because we have sold weapons to despotic regimes or because we insist on climate-destroying activities.
Last week, the Prime Minister seemed to understand the problem. He talked about having to deal with the security aspect of climate change, although Greenpeace called his speech “weapons-grade hypocrisy” when he is
“planning new coal mines at home and stripping funds for carbon-cutting energy efficiency measures.”
I agree. He is all talk and no action—or, as my grand- mother would have said, all fur coat and no knickers.
This “Fortress Britain” approach does not help anyone; it only pushes people into more dangerous routes of entry. The Government should fund the coastguard and RNLI lifesavers. We should be saving and helping people in dire circumstances, not increasing force and risk.
My Lords, when looking into this order, I found myself perplexed that the legislation governing borders and border control is spread across such a great many statutory instruments. It is no wonder that there is a discrepancy between the powers permitted for use on some borders and not on others.
I welcome that this order seeks to rectify that discrepancy by allowing the use of reasonable force where appropriate and necessary, so as to provide a unified approach for UK border officials across our international borders. However, I wonder whether it might be useful for the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee—I speak from personal experience as a past member of it—to revisit this order at some stage in the future. It is just the sort of legislation that frustrates parliamentarians—and others, presumably—because it relies on so many statutory instruments, orders and regulations, rather than the primary piece of legislation, to introduce the rules.
I support the order but I believe that review, and perhaps consolidation, would be useful for everyone going forward.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for introducing these regulations. It is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes.
I understand that this instrument would align the legislative regimes in place across juxtaposed control sites by extending the powers that immigration officers have to use reasonable force, where necessary, at sites such as Eurostar terminals and operations at Calais and Dunkirk.
Like the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, I have certain concerns about this piece of legislation. As a consequence of it, we are all too aware of the tragic scenes of migrants in Calais living in horrendous conditions, fleeing war-torn countries, facing a life of uncertainty and wanting to come to the UK. In dealing with these people, a humanitarian and compassionate attitude is required while working within the legislative requirements. Many of these people have had to make the choice to leave their war-torn country, having been separated from their family and neighbours. Their villages in Syria, Iran and Yemen have been destroyed.
In that context, I have several questions for the Minister. The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee noted that this was an instrument of interest and, in its report, indicated issues around reasonable force. Due to the fact that thousands of attempts have been made by individuals seeking to enter the UK illegally via the northern French seaports every year, and with many of those individuals not necessarily complying with immigration processes once intercepted due to the terrible conditions that they are fleeing from, it is considered necessary to grant Border Force officers at seaports the power to use reasonable force.
Can the Minister explain what is meant by “reasonable force” to take fingerprints? Will these people be restrained in some way? Will some form of physical force be used? Will they be placed in detention? Are these fingerprints taken for the purposes of deportation from the UK? What steps will the Government and Border Force officers take to ensure that no forms of xenophobia are displayed towards migrants? Will such elements of reasonable force be human rights-compliant? Have the various human rights organisations commented on this instrument and assessed its compliance with human rights legislation and international requirements in terms of respect for human beings?
I note that no impact assessment was required, a fact that was raised in the other place. Why was that the case? The order will have an impact on Border Force officials and on the individuals who could be subjected to reasonable force—of which I would like a definition. If that is the case, surely an impact assessment is required if there is going to be a significant impact, as this will be a much-enhanced operation when considered alongside the original work.
The Explanatory Note states:
“The Home Office has consulted with operational partners, as the persons most likely to be affected by the matters in this instrument, and are continuing to work with them to implement this instrument.”
Who are these operational partners and what is the nature and extent of their work?
When is the Home Secretary bringing forward the sovereign borders Bill to reform asylum, including curbing litigious human rights claimants who seek to delay their deportation from Britain after their cases are reviewed? I understand that such legislation, which is very worrying, will make provision for judges to place more weight on asylum seekers’ criminal records when considering their appeals against deportation. Is this instrument stage one in the process as the Government move towards the sovereign borders Bill and its implementation?
I am sad to say that I do not see much of an element of social justice in this piece of legislation. With the Covid-19 pandemic still raging, what are the requirements for quarantine arrangements for the migrants, who have already been subjected to so much terror and trauma in their lives? I look forward to the Minister providing answers to these questions.
My Lords, this SI has been prepared by the Home Office. The purpose of the order is to harmonise the legislative regimes across the juxtaposed controls, thereby also extending the powers to use reasonable force, as set out in Section 146 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, to the juxtaposed controls at the northern French seaports. The UK currently operates border controls at ports in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. This allows Border Force officers to conduct immigration checks in the same locations, policing and goods checks relating to passengers and freight destined for the UK before they begin their journey.
This is a reciprocal arrangement with the French officers who conduct entry checks at ports in the UK on passengers and freight destined for continental Europe. This optimises the efficiency of border control processes and provides earlier intervention to prevent those who seek to do harm from reaching the UK and are crucial to tackling irregular migration and disrupting organised immigration crime.
With thousands of attempts made by persons seeking to enter the UK illegally via the northern French seaports every year, and with many of those individuals not complying with immigration processes once intercepted, it is necessary to grant Border Force officers at the juxtaposed-control seaports, the power to use reasonable force where strictly necessary when non-compliant persons present a danger to themselves or others.
Will children wishing to join their families or relatives be protected and allowed to enter the UK?
My Lords, I thank the Minister for explaining these amendments. This has been an extremely wide-ranging debate.
If I have understood the Minister correctly, powers are given to United Kingdom officials in control zones in northern France, Belgium and Holland, and to French, Belgian and Dutch officials at Channel Tunnel control zones in the UK, to enable the enforcement of immigration law at the border before passengers enter the destination country. These powers include arrest, detention and the seizure of documents, and for offences committed in control zones to be treated as if they had been committed in the destination country. Arrangements at Channel Tunnel control zones are provided by different legislation: the Channel Tunnel (International Arrangements) Order 1993 in relation to French control zones and the Channel Tunnel (Miscellaneous Provisions) Order 1994 in relation to Belgian control zones.
According to the Explanatory Notes, one part of these regulations is to reconcile the regime at the juxtaposed-control seaports in northern France with that for international rail services via the Channel Tunnel. The other part, Article 2, extends all immigration enactments to control zones in France and makes the necessary modifications to other enactments to ensure that UK immigration controls are able to function properly in those control zones. Why not Belgium? Are there no international agreements between us and Holland? What steps are being taken to extend arrangements to Belgium and Holland?
In effect, this measure ensures a consistent approach to the Channel Tunnel and seaport control zones in France, and that UK immigration law can be effectively enforced within those control zones as if the control zones were in the UK. However, the Explanatory Note fails to explain that French officers operating in control zones within the UK are to be treated as if they were UK immigration officials in relation to offences committed or omitted in relation to an immigration officer, including assaulting an immigration officer.
What I am concerned about, and I hope the Minster can clarify this, is that if the arrangements are entirely reciprocal, there appears to be some kind of double jeopardy where a person could be committing an offence under both British and French law. For example, someone who assaults a French official in a control zone in the UK could be prosecuted both in the UK and in France, were the French to have equivalent legislation to these regulations. If that were the case, who would have precedence in terms of prosecution? Would it depend on whether it was a French national or a British national? My concern is enhanced by the addition of Article 12(7) to the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Juxtaposed Controls) Order 2002, which states:
“Any jurisdiction conferred by virtue of this article on any court is without prejudice to any jurisdiction exercisable apart from this article by any French court.”
The regulations appear to significantly expand the enactments having effect in a control zone in France from a specific and limited number of enactments in the 2002 order to all immigration control enactments; the Minister explained that the remit of Border Force officers has expanded since 2002. Even if that is necessary and proportionate, for the sake of clarity should the regulations list those immigration control enhancements so that people know exactly what they are subject to?
The regulations appear to remove the protections provided by the Data Protection Act in relation to data processed in a control zone in France in connection with immigration control. Why is that necessary and proportionate?
On the issue of reasonable force, can the noble Baroness confirm that such powers are already available to Border Force officers where they operate elsewhere and are not an additional power exercisable only under this order?
When I got to this stage of examining the regulations, I had to admit defeat. Can the Minister explain what exactly the effect of the following is? I quote from close to the bottom of page 2 of the order:
“(b) in paragraph 2 (modification of the Terrorism Act 2000 … (i) in sub-paragraph (1)—(aa) after paragraph (d), insert—‘(da) in paragraph 5A omit the words “or 3”;’; (bb) after paragraph (e), insert—‘(ea) in paragraph 6A omit the words “or 3” in each place where they occur”.
I could go on in a similar vein. If the Minister cannot explain the precise effect of these changes now, from the Dispatch Box, how are we supposed to make sense of this impenetrable legislation? I could go on, with pages and pages of similar changes in these regulations where it is not clear at all from the regulation or the Explanatory Memorandum what changes this order brings about.
The Explanatory Memorandum basically says that the order makes other amendments to the 2003 order and makes the necessary modifications to other enactments to ensure that UK immigration controls function properly in the control zones. In effect, it says “just trust us”. My Lords, I do not.
The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 permits the making of an order to provide for a law of England and Wales to have effect at a juxtaposed control at an EEA port. At present, the juxtaposed control locations governed by such an order in 2003 are at the ports of Calais and Dunkirk in France and, for the French authorities, at Dover.
Unlike their counterparts at UK ports and other juxtaposed locations, Border Force officers working at the northern French seaports have not been explicitly empowered under domestic law to use reasonable force if necessary to carry out their duties when dealing with serious breaches of security at the port, including in relation to those seeking to enter the UK. This order aligns
“the regime at the sea ports of Northern France with the regime currently in operation at the juxtaposed locations in Coquelles and at Eurostar terminals in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, where the full range of immigration powers are available to fully trained officers.”
National security is a key issue for us, and we are not opposed to the order. However, I have a few questions about the impact of the order in the absence of any impact assessment.
In paragraph 12.3, the Explanatory Memorandum states:
“An Impact Assessment has not been prepared for this instrument because there is no, or no significant, impact on the private or public sector.”
However, in paragraph 14.1, the Explanatory Memorandum says:
“Impacts will be monitored through regular collection and analysis of use of force data as well as the existing internal review system.”
On the one hand, the Explanatory Memorandum says that there will be
“no, or no significant, impact on the private or public sector”,
but, on the other hand, it says that “impacts will be monitored.” Could the Government explain this apparent contradiction in their response? What impacts are going to be monitored that will have no impact, or no significant impact, on the private or public sector?
Will this order have any impact on the number of people entering the UK without authority through the northern French ports? If so, what impact will it have? If it will not have any impact, what purpose does the order serve? At other juxtaposed control locations, where Border Force officers already have powers to use reasonable force, on how many occasions per week or month on average do they have to use these powers? How far can they go in exercising “reasonable force”? What actions does it cover and what actions does it not cover? Are Border Force officers who can use reasonable force also armed officers or are they ever armed officers?
The Explanatory Memorandum refers to Border Force officers able to use “reasonable force” as being fully trained. How long does it take to train a Border Force officer in the appropriate exercise of “reasonable force”? Will enabling Border Force officers to use reasonable force at the northern French ports mean that fewer officers will need to be deployed or will the change provided for in this order have no impact on staffing levels? How will we assess the impact of this change, in respect of the use of reasonable force, on national security?
In paragraph 7.4, the Explanatory Memorandum refers to
“thousands of attempts made by persons seeking to enter the UK illegally via the Northern French seaports every year”.
Are the Government saying that, because the power to use reasonable force is not currently available to Border Force officers at these ports, more people have entered the UK without authority through them as a result? In which case, why has it taken this length of time to bring forward this order? Have concerns been raised by the French authorities that Border Force officers do not have sufficient powers in relation to reasonable force and that that increases the responsibilities and workload of the French authorities? Once this order is in force, what impact will it have on the numbers of people entering the UK without authority via the northern French seaports?
I hope the Government can provide answers to all the questions raised in the debate, including those relating to people genuinely fleeing persecution. One would like to think that this order is designed and intended to improve national security in a meaningful and measurable way, and that it is not just about ensuring uniformity across juxtaposed control locations for the sake of it.
My Lords, there were indeed a lot of questions, some relating to this SI and others slightly outside it. I will happily try to answer as many questions as I can, and I will write to noble Lords where I cannot.
I hope I have made it clear that the integrity of the UK’s immigration system depends on the effective enforcement of the Immigration Rules. This measure empowers Border Force staff based at the ports of Calais and Dunkirk to exercise their powers to the fullest extent at the UK border controls in northern France.
Border Force officers will always seek first to engage with the individual, explaining the requirement to comply with immigration controls and encouraging the individual to do so. This order will allow suitably trained Border Force officers to exercise reasonable force, where necessary, to enforce compliance with immigration processes, where, for example, an individual attempts to abscond from Border Force custody or refuses to provide their fingerprints. It will also allow trained Border Force officers to intervene if a person’s conduct endangers themselves, Border Force staff or, indeed, the public. I assure noble Lords that such reasonable force would be exercised only as a last resort and only where its use is considered necessary, justified and proportionate. I hope that answers the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie.
The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked about training. Training will be provided and only Border Force officers who have been suitably trained will be permitted to use force when carrying out their duties—and only where it is absolutely necessary, justified and proportionate. The Home Office provides Border Force staff with comprehensive training on the use of force and officers are required to refresh this training annually.
On fingerprinting, it is correct that there have been some low levels of non-compliance with fingerprinting at Coquelles, where we are already able to exercise these powers. When encountered, officers have been able to use their training to contain and resolve the situation. It is inevitable that Border Force officers will occasionally encounter non-compliance, but they are trained to deal effectively with these situations; as I have said, they undergo comprehensive training. All incidents involving the use of force are recorded and may, where appropriate, be subject to review and/or investigation so that we can continue to ensure the safety of our staff and ensure that training is sufficient.
I now come to some specific questions. I welcome my noble friend Lord Bourne’s support for this SI. He asked about the juxtaposed controls and EU exit. The juxtaposed border controls are not an EU construct. They have been established through bilateral and multilateral arrangements with partners in France, Belgium and the Netherlands and allow the officers of each state to exercise controls as they would in their own territory. For the UK, this includes officers being permitted to use reasonable force where necessary, as I have said, when carrying out their duties, such as when fingerprinting irregular migrants and in cases where they have to intervene if a non-compliant individual’s conduct endangers themselves or other people.
My noble friend asked about the situation in Calais. The package of support that we have agreed with the French covers four broad areas. It has increased the number of gendarme reservists, with double the number of officers patrolling French beaches from 1 December last year. We have increased surveillance and technology. We have improved port infrastructure to reduce opportunities for smuggling, and we have reception centres, which support migrants into appropriate and safe accommodation in France, informing and enabling them to access the asylum system in France, and taking them out of the hands of criminal gangs.
My noble friends Lord Bourne and Lord Naseby asked about consultation. We have, of course, co-operated closely with the French for many years to tackle irregular migration and maintain the integrity of our shared borders. The measure will strengthen UK border controls at the juxtaposed seaports of Calais and Dunkirk and we are continuing to work closely with our French partners on implementation. My noble friend Lord Naseby asked about any adverse reaction to this; the answer is no—so far there has not been any.
My noble friend Lord Bourne asked whether oversight was in place to ensure that the power is properly exercised. Reasonable force would be exercised only as a last resort and only where its use is considered necessary, justified and proportionate. Border Force has robust internal procedures in place to ensure that its officers are exercising this power correctly. As I said earlier, every incident involving the use of force is recorded and, where appropriate and proportionate, reviewed locally by senior Border Force staff and/or the Home Office’s operational safety unit. Incidents involving serious professional misconduct may be subject to full internal investigation, including, where appropriate, by the professional standards unit. Border Force functions at the juxtaposed controls are overseen by a number of external oversight bodies, including the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration and HM Inspector of Prisons.
The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, asked about French officers based at Dover. This order relates to the powers of UK Border Force officers based at the juxtaposed seaports in France. The international agreements that underpin these juxtaposed controls allow the officers of each state to operate immigration controls as they would in their own territory, as he articulated; therefore, British and French law may not necessarily align in this regard. French officers carrying out immigration controls at Dover already have the power under their domestic law to use reasonable force where necessary. The Le Touquet agreement already allows UK and French authorities to use their full range of powers in their respective control zones.
To expand on the point I made to the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, about fingerprinting, it is migrants who attempt to circumvent UK immigration controls who may be fingerprinted.
My noble friend Lord Naseby asked what more we can do. We have the sovereign borders Bill coming up—I cannot give an exact date, but it will be soon—which completely overhauls the system to allow for safe and legal routes to this country. My noble friend asked whether there were any objections among our staff to moving to France. I do not know, but I will find out if I can. He asked about constraints on the turning back of rubber dinghies—although this is outside this statutory instrument. The constraints will be dependent on whose waters the boat is in. Clearly, in the Channel, some of the opportunities to turn back do not spread across a great distance at all. He asked about problems with small airports and extensions to other ports. I would imagine—but shall confirm—that extensions to other ports will be considered in due course should the demand arise.
The noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, basically asked why we were being so cruel in our use of reasonable force. This use was set out in the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. It is not a new thing; it is 22 years old and well established. My noble friend Lady Gardner of Parkes asked why there is so much legislation. Of course, we are overhauling the system through the sovereign borders Bill, which will be with us soon. Both the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, and the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked about the impact assessment. The lack of an impact assessment is because this SI is purely about how UK officers operate in France. The noble Lord, Lord Bhatia, asked about children joining their parents. This is outlined in the existing Immigration Rules, in Appendix FM.
I hope that I have answered noble Lords questions as far as I can today. I will write to noble Lords if I have missed anything out. With that, I beg to move.