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Fewer migrants returned to France

Fewer than 50 asylum seekers a year are being returned from Britain to France, despite thousands making their way across the Channel from Calais, according to the latest official figures.

Home Office figures show that 49 asylum seekers were sent back to France in 2013, down from 57 in 2012 and 153 in 2011.

Shadow immigration minister David Hanson, who unearthed the details through Commons written questions, said the figures showed the Government was "incompetent" in its handling of the issue.

"Ministers aren't taking the simple and accepted step of returning people to France when they've come through Calais to claim asylum here," he told the Daily Mail.

"It also confirms that the French are not doing enough. The French authorities need to establish the status of those who are now at Calais urgently and take action accordingly."

The disclosure comes as a new camp for migrants is being opened in Calais amid concerns from critics that it will simply encourage many more to attempt the journey to the UK.

In his response, immigration minister James Brokenshire said that there had been a sharp increase in the number of illegal migrants who were being turned back before they could cross the Channel, rising from 8,000 in 2011/2012 to more than 18,000 in 2013/2014.

A Home Office spokesman said: " The UK has a proud history of offering protection to those who need it, but we will not shoulder the burden of asylum claims which should rightly be considered by other countries.

"We are taking full advantage of the Dublin Regulation to return asylum seekers to other European countries, including France - as evidenced by the removal of over 12,000 people since 2003, many more than we have received in return.

"The opening of the day centre is entirely a matter for the French authorities. The UK is not providing any funding or support for it. We have, however, committed £12 million to further reinforce security in Calais, which is in the interest of both countries.

"Using some of the best technology in the world, Border Force officers prevented more than 18,000 attempts to cross the Channel illegally in the year to April 2014 - a rise of more than 60% on the previous year."

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