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Points of Order

Volume 711: debated on Wednesday 30 March 2022

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. My constituent Anton is Ukrainian, and his sister and two-month-old niece have made a perilous journey from Mariupol to Dnipro to try to escape the ongoing conflict. Anton is now desperate to bring them to the UK as soon as possible, and he has ample accommodation for them. He has applied for a Ukraine family scheme visa for each of them. However, as his baby niece does not yet have a passport of her own, the Home Office is demanding that they attend a visa appointment for biometric photos to be taken of her. This requirement strikes me as absurd. I have written to Ministers, but I am concerned that the upcoming recess may mean that this will not be addressed with the urgency it requires. I therefore ask for your guidance on what steps I can take, before we rise tomorrow, to ensure that Ministers remove this hurdle urgently.

I thank the hon. Lady for her point of order. As she knows, it is not a point of order and it is not for the Chair to give the answer, but I appreciate that she is using the opportunity of a point of order to raise a matter that she does not otherwise have the opportunity to raise. The first thing I would say to her is that I am sure those on the Treasury Bench have heard her question, but I hope I can be a bit more helpful to her because I understand the need for urgency. I have asked similar questions as a constituency MP, and found that Ministers—[Interruption.] Excuse me, but we have a slight crisis here. Hay fever is not meant to extend to the Chair. I beg the House’s pardon.

I have discovered that the Ministers dealing with this are very open to giving immediate and thorough answers if they are asked in the right way. I know that they are holding surgeries for all Members of Parliament, and I know that their special advisers have made themselves available. The Ministers in question want to answer questions such as the hon. Lady’s question immediately. There is, I have discovered, no intention to delay, because the sort of case the hon. Lady has described is one that we all have every sympathy with and there are ways around it. I am sure the hon. Lady will get an answer and very quickly if she approaches the Ministers and special advisers directly. It is not really for me to give this advice, but if she is stuck, she should come to see me in my office later and I will find a way to get that question through for her, because we do not want that baby to suffer and there are ways of dealing with this.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. This is a very similar issue. I want to seek your guidance about how I may raise the plight of refugees currently languishing on the Ukrainian-Polish border near Medyka and beyond. Dave Powles, the editor of my local newspaper, the Norwich Evening News, is on the ground there, and has stated that the Government Homes for Ukraine scheme is failing by every metric possible. Despite hundreds of people across Norwich and Norfolk volunteering to take refugees into their own homes, a lack of co-ordination and communication as well as over-complication and technical delays mean that, while 80 families have been matched, not one has been accepted into the UK. Home Office support on the ground is also non-existent, and what support there is is coming from small charities and individuals that are struggling with the numbers they are dealing with. Can you advise me how I may bring this tragic situation to the Government’s attention?

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman’s point of order, and I think I have just given him the answer. I am sure that Ministers are not trying to delay; they are trying to give Members as much information and advice as possible and as soon as possible, and there will be a way in which he can get that advice. I do not want to keep offering myself as a conduit, but I rather think that those on the Treasury Bench have heard his point and that it will be treated sympathetically.