Peers back tight immigration controls

STRONG backing for a toughening of immigration controls at the borders of the European Union comes today in a report from an all-party committee of peers.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants yesterday attacked the report for giving the clearest Parliamentary approval yet for 'Fortress Europe' proposals that discriminated against black countries.

While supporting European Commission proposals for a single 'Euro-visa' for visitors recognised in all member states, the Lords Select Committee on the European Communities insists countries have the right under the Single European Act to impose controls at their own borders - an initiative the British Government has pressed for as an aid to eliminating terrorism and drug trafficking.

The peers warn of the potential for 'mistake or personal malice' in draft External Frontiers Convention proposals for a computer list, compiled from national lists of undesirable immigrants, which would exclude anyone listed from all 12 countries. Today's report says individuals should be entitled to know which country put them on the list and to have a speedy judicial remedy in that state.

The committee also concludes that the list of countries whose nationals would require visas to enter the EU is 'unnecessarily long and would be damaging to UK interests'. It calls for a 'significant pruning of the list' and the removal of many Commonwealth countries.

Claude Moraes, director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said the report amounted to a policy based on racial discrimination. He also condemned the computerised list of 'undesirables', saying: 'The fear is that at a future time unscrupulous governments may target particular groups.'