Pirouet - Chapter 08
It is against the background of EU decision-making that legislative
developments in the UK must be seen. The government has seldom referred
to decisions taken on asylum by EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers.
They have preferred to let it be thought that that the British were
making their own decisions. The Conservative Party was divided in its
attitude to the EU, and wanted harsh policies to look like their own
initiatives because harshness on immigration played well to a large
section of the population. The Labour government which came to power in
1997 seems no more anxious to point to decisions made at EU level than
were their predecessors. Only Home Secretary Douglas Hurd, introducing
carrier sanctions in 1987, pointed out that other countries were
introducing the same deterrent. If the world worked in the way the West
thought it ought to, carrier sanctions should have been sufficient.
Once airlines could be fined for bringing in improperly documented
passengers, all that was needed to stem the flow of people seeking
asylum was a visa requirement for nationals of countries likely to
generate refugees. However, visas can be obtained on false pretences,
airline staff in many countries can be bribed, and documents can be
forged. On top of that, the imposition of strict visa regimes and
carrier sanctions gave rise to profitable rackets of various kinds: the
theft of passports from British and other Western nationals, forgery,
bribery, and human trafficking. It became a matter of crimes emerging
to fit the punishment.