The government's controversial e-Borders programme would be illegal in the European Union under the EU treaty, a Home Affairs Committee report warned yesterday.
The programme, which involves the gathering of electronic information on all travellers entering or leaving the UK, has been touted by the government as a vital step in improving security, and speeding the flow of passengers in and out of the UK's airports and ports.
However, the report urged the UK Border Agency to halt any further work on the programme, which it said will cost the taxpayer £1.2bn and may be illegal.
"It is shocking that money has already been spent on a programme which could never be implemented," said Home Affairs Committee chairman Keith Vaz.
"This programme is supposed to cover tens of millions of passengers intra-EU. That accounts for a very significant chunk of travel in and out of the UK.
"Until this legality is resolved, the UK Border Agency must just halt any further work to 'go live' on intra-EU routes. We cannot have another massive IT project which flounders or is even abandoned at huge cost to the taxpayer. It is simply unacceptable."
However, Borders and Immigration minister Phil Woolas argued that the programme is legal under EU law.
"E-Borders is fully compliant with EU law and this has been confirmed by the European Commission," he said in a statement. "This allows us to continue our efforts to secure our border by counting people in and out."
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