Asylum Seekers 'Prepared To Die To Come To UK...http://news.sky.com

Britain's benefit system is acting as a magnet for asylum seekers - and many are "prepared to die" to come to England, the Mayor of Calais has told MPs.

In the past, Natacha Bouchart has threatened to block the French port unless the UK does more to control the number of migrants trying to get to Britain.

Giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, she said Britain is seen as a "soft touch" because it pays £36 a week to asylum seekers.

"You have a much more favourable regime in Britain than in other European countries, partly because of the language, partly because of the weekly benefit of £36 for asylum seekers, which is a huge amount for people who have nothing in their lives," she said.

"We do not have asylum seekers in Calais - they do not want asylum in France, they want to get to England."


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Video: Sept 7: Migrants Storm Calais PortShe said there are around 2,500 migrants in Calais, and called for new European regulations to control the flow of migrants to Britain.

The border should be returned from Calais to Dover as her port struggles to cope with an increasingly violent migrant population, she said.

"The people of Calais have a right to live in peace," she said.

"The migrant population has changed now - (it's) much more violent and they are harassing the people of Calais, and there are a lot of mafia and traffickers in the population."


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Video: Aug 5: Calais Migrants PlanMs Bouchart said she backed French President Francois Hollande's plans for a new reception centre holding migrants away from the centre of Calais.

She said: "The real magnet is not the city of Calais, the real magnets are the benefits perceived in Great Britain."

The so-called Le Touquet Treaty, signed in 2003, allows UK border officials to be stationed at ferry terminals in France and French border police to be stationed at Dover - effectively moving UK borders across the Channel.

"I do think the frontier should be on British territory because it's up to you to decide whether or not you wish to welcome these migrants or not," Ms Bouchart said.


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Gallery: Oct 13: Calais Residents Call For More Cops

Hundreds of people have taken to the streets of Calais calling for more police officers amid a rise in migrants trying to enter Britain.

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Gallery: Oct 13: Calais Residents Call For More Cops

Hundreds of people have taken to the streets of Calais calling for more police officers amid a rise in migrants trying to enter Britain.

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Sky News Political Correspondent Sophy Ridge said: "I think what she wants to do is to lay some of the blame for the difficult situation, the pressurised situation at Calais, at the door of the UK government.

"She was talking about the English language being a pull, but also crucially the amount of money that some people get - the welfare system in the UK that is pulling people towards the country."

She added: "It's going to be quite awkward really for the UK government. I think one of the reasons perhaps that they wanted to get the Mayor of Calais over was because they wanted to hear her side of the story.

"Often in Westminster, the blame is laid at the foot of the French not doing enough to improve security at the port.


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Video: Calais Crisis: Offer Of Nato Fence"But certainly there is a widespread recognition that something does need to be done - both on humanitarian grounds, because obviously the situation there for many people living in the camp is very bad, but also because of the numbers who are consistently trying to get over the border."