South Scotland

MPs clash in Commons over Cairnryan security concerns

Richard Arkless

Two south of Scotland MPs have clashed in the House of Commons over the issue of security at the Irish Sea ferry ports at Cairnryan.

The UK Border Agency withdrew its entire staff of three officers from Stranraer in 2010.

The move was raised by Dumfries and Galloway SNP MP Richard Arkless during the first Scottish Questions since the general election.

It was met with a swift rebuke from Scottish Secretary David Mundell.

The clash followed a call for assurances on the policing effort in preventing illegal immigrants from being smuggled through ports into mainland Britain.

Mr Arkless said: "Given the security concerns raised by the honourable member and the further cuts proposed to Scotland's budget, will the Secretary of State commit to revisit his government's decision to withdraw Border Agency staff from the port of Stranraer in 2010?"

In response, Mr Mundell, who represents Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweedale, welcomed Mr Arkless to the Commons but rejected his point.

He added: "I think the most unhelpful contribution to policing in Stranraer and surrounding areas has come from the Scottish government's decision to get rid of Dumfries and Galloway police force against the wishes of local people."

The move to withdraw the Border Agency staff was condemned by a senior police chief at the time.

Dumfries and Galloway chief constable Pat Shearer said he had already been forced to release illegal immigrants because of a lack of support.

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