The Home Secretary’s statement on the UK Border Agency was repeated in the House of Lords by Lord Henley this afternoon.
My exchange with him was as follows:
“Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, is it not the case that Home Office Ministers frequently visit our border posts? In the circumstances, is it not surprising that they did not visit sites where these pilots were taking place—or if they did, that they did not notice or hear from the staff concerned how the pilots had been extended? Can the Minister also tell us what arrangements Ministers made to monitor the pilots and the way in which they were working?
Lord Henley: My Lords, speaking for myself, I have to say that I have not visited any of the pilots, but then I have not been in the Home Office for that long. No doubt I will make inquiries of my honourable and right honourable friends and let the noble Lord know what visits have been made. However, I believe that Ministers have visited ports and airports on quite a regular basis to see how these things operate. I certainly was intending to do that at some point in the near future, but when I will be able to manage that is another matter. Of course Ministers always want to evaluate any pilot schemes they put into place, whether by visits or by other means.”
So, it IS likely that Ministers will have visited the pilot sites and YES they will have been monitoring the pilots.