Fair Deal got there first, but the actual proposals – “Strengthening the Common Travel Area” [direct pdf link here] – are worth noting. The proposals on the Common Travel Area follow from the Cabinet Office report in November last year and are expected to be implemented via the the draft Immigration and Citizenship Bill. As Mick noted a week ago it’s presented as a reciprocal move to what’s already in place in the Republic of Ireland. Not that there was much public debate in advance of some of those moves.. From the consultation document [pdf file]
Sea and Air Routes between the UK and the Republic of Ireland
2.1 In common with the Republic of Irelands approach to travel within the CTA, we intend to:
carry out checks on passengers and their documents on sea and air routes arriving and departing from the UK to the Republic of Ireland for border control purposes. The nature of the examination by an immigration officer will depend upon a passengers status as a CTA national or a non-CTA national, similar to the ways in which European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and non-EEA nationals are processed when arriving in the UK;
activate e-Borders monitoring on air routes by 2009 and sea routes by 2010 arriving in or departing from the UK from or to the Republic of Ireland. Documents will be required to prove passengers identity and nationality on these routes; and
apply carriers liability charges to air and sea routes from the Republic of Ireland to the UK.
2.2 The introduction of routine immigration checks represents a substantial change to the UKs operation of the CTA.
2.3 We propose to bring forward new legal provisions to allow us to:
examine non-CTA nationals and require evidence of their identity and nationality through a valid passport or national identity card, as is customary on other international routes into the UK;
examine CTA nationals and require satisfactory evidence of their identity and nationality through documents to be determined following this consultation; and
carry out searches of vehicles departing to and arriving from the Republic of Ireland.
2.4 Accompanying the power to mount border controls on routes between the Republic of Ireland and the UK will also be the capability to apply carriers liability charges to air and sea routes between the Republic of Ireland and the UK. We know from experience that this measure can significantly reduce the number of inadequately documented arrivals on UK soil. We need to work with industry to understand how to implement a carriers liability regime in a supportive manner to maximise our collective benefit from it.
Overland travel between the Republic of Ireland and northern ireland
2.5 There is no intention to introduce fixed immigration controls on the land border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
2.6 However, mirroring activity in the Republic of Ireland, the UK will consider increasing ad hoc immigration checks on vehicles to target non-CTA nationals who have travelled illegally to the Northern Ireland side of the land border.
2.7 Further practical joint working initiatives have been identified in the wider package of CTA reform focusing on reducing the harm caused by abuse of the arrangement. These include a number of intelligence-led operations and further co-operation on data sharing to protect the integrity of our border controls.
The public consultation closes on 16 October 2008.
However, the publication of the paper by the UK Border Agency left unresolved symbolic and sensitive political issues surrounding the question of possible identity checks for people travelling between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. The home office in London confirmed that this will be the subject of a separate consultation to be launched in the autumn.