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Refugee Families

Volume 636: debated on Wednesday 28 February 2018

6. What recent discussions she has had with the Home Secretary on enabling refugee families to reunify in the UK. (904083)

14. What recent discussions she has had with the Home Secretary on enabling refugee families to reunify in the UK. (904091)

I regularly discuss refugee issues with Cabinet colleagues, including the Home Secretary, and with Home Office officials. We have committed to resettling 20,000 refugees fleeing the Syria conflict, and 3,000 vulnerable children and their families by 2020 from the middle east and north Africa, and we provide lifesaving aid, education and jobs to millions of refugees globally.

Will the Secretary of State urge the Government to back next month’s private Member’s Bill and put the humanity of migrants and the importance of family life at the heart of the Government’s immigration policy?

Obviously, the mandate resettlement scheme allows for that to happen, and there is no quota or cap on that. If we can improve things, I am always open to that on any issue, but I hope we can manage to do these things without primary legislation.

I suspect that most people would agree with the Home Affairs Committee when it said that it is

“perverse that children who have been granted refugee status…are not then allowed to bring their close family to join them”.

Does the Secretary of State agree?

It is loud in the Chamber, but I think the hon. Gentleman asked why children are not allowed to be joined by their parents. There are some solid technical reasons why we think that would be a bad idea, but I am looking into ways for us to get good things to happen. For example, the current Rohingya crisis has some barriers to good things happening in terms of identifying people and so forth, and we are working with the Home Office to address those issues. If the hon. Gentleman has suggestions, I would be happy to hear them.

Will my right hon. Friend join me in welcoming Refugee Action’s new Stand Up For Asylum campaign, which is launched today? It reminds us of the importance of providing a safe haven for those in genuine need.

I thank my right hon. Friend for drawing attention to that campaign, which I welcome and look forward to reading about. We should be proud of the asylum system that we have, which protects individuals from around the world.

The UK simply cannot speak with any authority on tackling the global refugee crisis until we get our own house in order. Time and again, the Government’s international development policy is held back by what other Departments are doing, including arms sales in Yemen, tax and trade deals that hurt developing countries, and a foreign policy that has forgotten human rights. Will the Secretary of State urge her Government to get behind the private Member’s Bill that is due to be debated in March and at least help to put an end to that particular contradiction and get refugee children reunited with their families?

In addition to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Battersea (Marsha De Cordova) a moment ago, the speech I gave at the Bond conference on Monday highlighted that we cannot do international development well unless we also do it in accordance with British values. I think we have a good track record as a nation and as a Government. I am always keen to see how we can make improvements, but I hope we can make them without primary legislation.