MPs have slammed the level of progress made by the UK Border Agency in using technology to control entry to the UK.
The parliamentary Home Affairs Committee has criticised the cost of deploying IRIS Scanners at border checkpoints, which are now being axed. The £9.1 million cost of the Iris Scanners, which are being closed down only five years after their introduction, "should not be repeated", it says.
It warns the same mistakes must not happen with e-Gates - where UK passport holders can self-scan their passports to clear immigration queues.
"The committee recommends the Agency publish data collected on e-Gates trials to ensure it does not suffer the same costly investment in equipment which will not last," warns the report.
Meanwhile, the government has said its e-Borders programme will be able to pre-check every non-European Economic Area (EEA) airline visitor to the UK from this month, with sea and rail visitors added later. Immigration minister Damian Green made the pledge as he explained in a speech last month how the new Border Force will operate following its separation from the UK Border Agency.
The Home Affairs Committee report published today said it was "uncertain" over the feasibility of the government's e-Borders timetable. It said it "found it difficult" to see how the scheme can be fully applied to all rail and sea passengers by the set date of December 2014.
The committee said the government needed "clarity on policy and practicalities for achieving a comprehensive e-Border system".
The size of the "controlled archive" of applicants who have applied to stay in the country, but who have "disappeared", has only been reduced by 5,000 files since a previous committee report in November 2011, the committee said.
There are now 119,000 files placed in the archive where every effort to track an applicant has been exhausted. "Therefore at the present rate of resolution, it will take four years to close the archive", it explained.
Keith Vaz MP, chair of the committee, added: "The reputation of the Home Office, and by extension, the UK government, is being tarnished by the inability of the UK Border Agency to fulfil its basic functions."