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Immigration: Children

Volume 651: debated on Thursday 20 December 2018

The Government remain committed to relocating the specified number of 480 unaccompanied children to the United Kingdom under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016, commonly known as the “Dubs amendment”. The first 220 of those children arrived under exceptional circumstances as part of the UK’s comprehensive support to the clearance of the Calais camp from October 2016. During this time, this Government took unprecedented action to remove vulnerable children from a dangerous situation where they were at risk of violence and abuse.

Following discussion with delivery partners, we have decided to remove the date criterion for when children had to have arrived in Europe to qualify for transfer to the UK. Delivering section 67 in a safe way, which respects individual states’ national laws and the best interests of children, remains a priority for the Government.

This decision means that participating states—France, Greece and Italy—will now be able to refer the most vulnerable children, regardless of when they arrived into Europe. To be eligible for the scheme, it must be in the child’s best interests to come to the UK, rather than to remain in their current host country, be transferred to another EU member state or to be reunited with family outside of Europe. We continue to ask participating states to prioritise unaccompanied children who are most likely to be granted refugee status and/or are the most vulnerable.

It is this Government’s hope that removing the date criterion will speed up transfers and will enable participating states to more easily identify children for transfer as soon as possible. We are grateful for the ongoing support to meet this commitment from the Governments of participating states, delivery partners and UK local authorities. Ensuring the safe relocation of children under the scheme as soon as possible is dependent on appropriate care placements being available for children once they arrive in the UK. The Home Office continues to work closely with local authorities across the UK to place children as quickly as possible and in a location where their individual care needs can be met.