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Immigration: British Armed Forces Interpreters

Volume 696: debated on Monday 7 June 2021

What steps she is taking to ensure that interpreters who assisted British armed forces overseas will be included as part of reforms to the immigration system. (901011)

The Government owe an immense debt of gratitude to the brave interpreters who worked alongside our armed forces overseas. In April we launched the Afghan relocations and assistance policy, under which any current or former staff members in Afghanistan who are at risk are offered priority relocation to the United Kingdom, regardless of their employment status, rank, role, or length of service.

It is a real pleasure to submit a question asking for a change in policy, and for that to happen one week later, so I congratulate the Government, and particularly the Home Secretary, on this long overdue change of heart. It is right that we accelerate the relocation scheme for Afghan interpreters and their families—people who have protected us and our country so well for so long. In view of worrying reports in the press last week, will my right hon. Friend clarify that not only Afghan interpreters directly employed by the Ministry of Defence but sub-contracted interpreters will share the right to those Afghan relocations?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right, and the entire House should pay tribute to those who worked alongside our armed forces in Afghanistan, in harrowing conditions. The Defence Secretary and I were determined to ensure that this policy went through. In light of what is taking place in Afghanistan now, with further withdrawal and drawdown, it is right that we reach out to those who, as my right hon. Friend said, are part of that wider support network and have worked with our armed forces.