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Syrian Refugees

Volume 603: debated on Monday 14 December 2015

15. What recent estimate he has made of the number of local authorities that have resettled Syrian refugees. (902677)

The number of local authorities that have resettled Syrian refugees changes frequently, as more Syrians arrive for resettlement in the UK. Although it is not practical to give a running commentary on the number of local authorities participating in the scheme, I can confirm that at the beginning of December about 50 local authorities had confirmed places before Christmas.

Does the Minister share my concerns about the rise of Islamophobia in the country, fuelled by the right-wing press? Will he issue guidance to local authorities and community organisations on how best to deal with it and to support refugees?

Of course I share the hon. Gentleman’s concern about Islamophobia. All I can say is that I have found nothing but a warm welcome from all parts of the UK for the refugees who have arrived in this country, and I am certain that will continue.

A lot of local authorities, including my Sefton authority in the north-west, are seemingly confused about their role. Is there anything the Minister can do to add clarity and hurry things along?

Our dealings with local authorities vary very much, depending on the particular cases. We do not have any power to insist that refugees go to certain places, but we are working with county councils, district councils and metropolitan borough areas. The system is therefore very flexible, and all I can say is that at the moment it has been working very well, because the number of places that have been offered is broadly equivalent to the number of refugees arriving.