Senior Liberal Democrat MP works with MBM to make sure e-Borders concerns are heard

A senior Liberal Democrat MP has weighed into the e-Borders debate by tabling a written question to the Home Secretary concerning the scheme’s implications for leisure boaters.

Chris Huhne (pictured), MP for Eastleigh on the south coast and the Lib Dem’s shadow home secretary, offered to act after being contacted by MBM about e-Borders, the Government’s £1.2bn scheme to “transform our border controls”.

Under current proposals, boaters will start having to comply with e-Borders sometime between 2011 and 2014. From then, any journeys made in your boat to Europe, including Ireland and the Channel Islands, will need to be logged with the Government up to 48 hours before departure.

Not only will you have to provide detailed passage information, but e-Borders will require the submission of personal information for everyone on board, including name, date of birth, gender and passport details.

This information will then be checked “against watch-lists, analysed, risk assessed and shared between the UK border agencies, including police”, the Home Office said.

The same information will need to be conveyed before your planned return to the UK.

In his written question, Huhne asked: “Following the Home Office announcement that 48 hours notice of passenger and crew manifests and boat details will be necessary under the e-Borders scheme before entering or leaving UK waters, what flexibility does the Home Secretary intend to allow so that leisure boaters are able to visit other countries such as Ireland and France at short notice once they have taken into consideration a weather forecast?”

Huhne is concerned that given the variable nature of the UK’s weather, often boaters have to make snap judgements about leaving or returning to the UK, and may not have time to submit all this information to e-Borders.

In its current form, MBM believes e-Borders to be unworkable and unenforceable, given the tens of thousands of small boat movements out of and into UK waters every year, and will be working with politicians to make sure these concerns are heard.

For more on e-Borders, see December’s issue, out 20 November.