Live Unaccompanied Children Question Questions and Statements

Live Unaccompanied Children Question

Live coverage of debate on an urgent question from the Labour chair of the Home Affairs Committee on the government's decision to stop receiving unaccompanied child refugees.

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do see a good future for UK steel and the Department of International


Trade looks forward to taking part in a hollow government approach to


make sure that UK steel is sold the board. Order. Urgent question.


Yvette Cooper. To of the Home Secretary to make a statement on the


government 's decision to close the scheme for child refugees. Secretary


of State. We have pledged over ?2.3 billion in


aid to the simmering conflict. It is our largest ever humanitarian


response to a single crisis. The UK has contributed significantly to


hosting, supporting and protecting the most vulnerable children


affected by the migration crisis. In the year ending September 2016, we


granted asylum or another form of leave to over 8000 children. Of the


4400 individuals resettled through the Syrian vulnerable persons


resettlement scheme so far, around half our children. Within Europe in


2016 we transferred over 900 unaccompanied asylum seeking


children to the UK. This included more than 750 from France as part of


the UK's support for the Calais camp clearance and I am proud that as


Home Secretary the UK tape such a key role in the closing of the camp.


Yesterday the government announced that in accordance with section 67


of the immigration act we will transfer the specified number of 350


children pursuant to that section who reasonably meet the intention


and spirit behind the provision. This number includes over 200


children already transferred under section 67 from France, and I want


to be absolutely clear. The scheme is not closed. As required by the


legislation we have consulted with local authorities on the capacity to


care for unaccompanied asylum seeking children before arriving at


the number and we are grateful for the way that local authorities have


stepped up to provide places for those arriving and we will continue


to work closely to address capacity needs. The government has always


been clear that we do not want to incentivise perilous journeys to


Europe, particularly by the most vulnerable children. That is why


children must have arrived in Europe before the 20th of March 2016 to be


eligible under section 67 of the immigration act. The obligation was


accepted on the fact that it would be based on local authority


capacity. The government has a clear strategy and we believe it is the


right approach. We have launched the National transfer scheme and we have


increased funding for local authorities caring for unaccompanied


asylum seeking children by between 20 and 20%. The government has taken


steps to improve an already comprehensive approach and we are


providing protection to thousands of children and I am proud of this


government's active approach to helping and sheltering the most


vulnerable and that is a position that will continue. Yvette Cooper.


Last week the Prime Minister said, on refugees this government has a


proud record of support and long may it continue. This week the


government cancelled the scheme after it had been running for less


than six months. She says it has a close, but will she confirm what it


said in the statement yesterday that one so 350 children are here, that


is it, it is close. Where does it say in the hands of debate that I


have here from our debates on the amendment that we will only help


lone child referees to six months? Where does it say that instead of


the 3000 that Parliament debated, we will only help the tenth of that


number? Where does it say that when we get the chance we will turn our


backs? It doesn't because we didn't say that. The Home Secretary knows


what she is doing is shameful. Not only has she shocked the programme,


but she has cancelled the fast track Dublin scheme to help those with


families who are here. The Home Secretary did good work in the


autumn of last year and I commended her for it, to help those in Calais


and make sure we could take as many children as possible, but she also


knows most of those have family here already and they were entitled to be


here. She said local councils can't do more. They can, but it takes


time. The scheme should not be closed down and there are still many


children in need of help. She knows there are thousands in Greece in


overcrowded accommodation or homeless. Or in Italy, still at risk


of human trafficking. On teenagers in French centres that are being


closed down and have nowhere to go now. In Calais, they are heading


back to the dirt and danger and back into the arms of the abuse,


prostitution rings, traffickers and modern slavery, that this government


has pledged to end. We note that France and this government can do


better. There are a rich array teenagers here now with a better


future. We can do this. Britain can do better than this. Will she do


better -- will she accept that and reinstate the scheme? I repeat that


the amendment in place is not close. We have done what we were meant to


do and we have put a number on it. She implies it is a business of


accepting children and it is about numbers. What I will respectfully


say to her is that these are children who need looking after over


a period. When we accept them here it is not job done. It is making


sure we work with local authorities, that we have the right safeguarding


in place, and that is why we engage with local authorities, why we make


sure they have sufficient funds, which we have increased, to look


after those young people. I completely reject her attack. The UK


has strong reputation in Europe and internationally for looking after


the most vulnerable. That will continue. We have a different


approach to wear those most vulnerable are. We believe that they


are in the region. That is why we have made a pledge to accept 3000


children from the region and we are committed to delivering on that.


They are the most vulnerable. I am clear that when working with my


French counterparts they do not want us to indefinitely continue to


accept children under the amendment because they specify, and I agree


with them, that it acts as a draw, it acts as a Paul, it encourages


people traffickers. I know she doesn't want that, but I would ask


her to think very carefully about the approaching prefers.


I am very much aware of the great shortage of resources there are. I


commend the Home Secretary for the resilience she's showing. Can she


assure me the Government will remain committed, not only to bringing


referee children here, where appropriate, but she'll have due


regard to the children we already have? We are always grateful for the


work that local authorities do. We must not underestimate the


difficulty there is sometimes, particularly taking children who


have been through war zones, the extra work and care that they need,


which we work with them to ensure they deliver. Of course, he is


absolutely right. We need to make sure that children within the UK are


always looked after. Last year I visited a number of referee camps in


Europe. I meted with the Red Cross volunteers who were saving refugees


from the sea. And they said to me that the worst thing was the


children. And I think the worst thing about this Government's


failure to step up to the totality of the refugee crisis is the


children. In the written statement yesterday, the minister for state


for immigration said, all children, not transferred to the UK are in the


care of the French authorities. They may be technically the


responsibility of the French authorities, but many of these


children are not being cared for at all. They are sleeping on the sleep.


They are sleeping in formal encampmentens and they are making


their way back to Calais, Dunkirk - can the Secretary of State tell me


how does a UK plan to screen and process this extra 150 children, for


which country will the remaining 150 children be transferred from? What


conversations has been had with the Italian and French Governments


regarding taking such a small number of children? How does she live with


herself, leaving thousands of people, and members opposite can


jeer - how does she live with herself? Leaving thousands of


children subject to disease, people trafficking, squalor and


hopelessness? Mr Speaker, I share one thing with The Right Honourable


lady, that it is the children that matter most and it is an absolutely


disgraceful situation we have on the borders of Europe where there are so


many people being trafficked over through to Italy and in the past


through to Greece in order to meet their desire to come to Europe and


so often find themselves in the hands of the people traffickers. It


is because we care in this way that we have put together our plan to


take refugees from the most vulnerable places. She doubts how


the children are looked after. The many children who are most


vulnerable are the ones out in the vulnerable are the ones out in the


camps out in Jordan, in Lebanon, these are the runs who are really


vulnerable. These are the ones that we are determined to bring over


here, to give them the benefit of the safety in the UK. I would also


say to The Right Honourable lady that I do speak to my European


counterparts about the best way to address helping these children and


helping the refugees that are now coming in such numbers to Europe and


the French are very clear that they are now processing the children who


have come out of the Calais camp. They want to continue to do. That


but one of the things that stops the children operating with the French


authorities is the hope of being taken into the amendment and coming


to the UK. They are clear with us that if they are to manage those


children for the best for those children, which I think is what she


wants, as I want, then making it clear that that is not going to be


indefinitely open is the best outcome for them.


I don't doubt the sincerity of the members opposite, but when I was


chairing the all party group on human trafficking this is a classic


dilemma we have. And if you continue to take unaccompanied children into


this country you will have more and more taken from Syria, taken across


sea routes, many will die and you are feeding and encouraging human


trafficking. The honourable lady is very sincere but she's is wrong. I


would urge the Home Secretary to continue to take people from Syria


but abandon encouraging human trafficking by taking them from


Europe. I thank my honourable friend for his intervention I know he has


substantial experience in this area having worked so hard on human


trafficking. I recognise the point he makes that it is a dilemma. It is


not always clear what the right strategy is. I would ask honourable


members opposite to recognise we have an approach, sitcom passionate,


they do not have a monopoly on that and we can deliver the best and we


would urge them to support us on that.


Mr Speaker, Mr Speaker, I am struggling to understand exactly


what the Home Secretary is telling us. She says the scheme is not


closed. But she seems to have specified a number of 350 and said


that once the 350 are here, that will be an end of any scheme under


the section. That must mean that the scheme is closed after 350 children


get here. Will she clarify that? Will she appreciate if that is the


case it is completely against the spirit of what was discussed in this


House. I understand the pool argument, but there are thousands of


children already in Europe and many of these children are unaccompanied


and vulnerable. The Lord has described what was done


yesterday as shabby and deceitful. It seems that the Government tried


to sneak out what they knew would be an unpopular announcement when they


were busy looking at the detail of the Brexit deal S this what comes of


cosying up to President Trump? Well Well, I pecks ected better from the


honourable and learned lady. She has not listened to the point I have


made. We believe knit the interests of the children to take this view.


Instead she casts assertions around. There's no attempt to hide anything.


I must say, if there had, today might have been the day to put down


the WMS rather than yesterday. Here I am to answer the urgent question


and delighted to so to put any clarity on any misunderstanding. In


terms of the right, the honourable and learned lady's first comment


about the number, the scheme is still open because we still expect a


transfer another 150 children. And we have Home Office representatives


in Greece and in Italy making sure we can do that. But in accordance


with the regulations as set out we had to put a number on it, having


consulted with local authorities. That is what we've done.


Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I note the Secretary of State says the


scheme is not closed. I would urge the Secretary of State to respect


the House when the amendment was voted that it was never expected to


be closed at any point. Does she agree with me that Britain, does the


Secretary of State agree that Britain should be leading the way,


there should be more resources for local authorities? Will the


Government please reintroduce a minister for refugees, not just


Syrian refugees to show the importance we give to this 21st


century problem? I know she cares as I do, as the Government does very


much about this issue, which is why we have substantial combhiments to


help children interest the regions to help 20,000 from Syria to come


over here. We are transferring 100 people. We will continue to step up


to show the world that the UK is doing the right thing by helping


these families, helping these children. And I disagree with her on


one thing and with some honourable ladies and gentlemen opposite, which


is that I believe that at the time of the amendment it was made


perfectly clear that the number needed to be set. A number would be


set and we have stuck absolutely both to the letter and the sprirt of


that amendment. Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Home


Secretary says she's talked to the French authorities and they want to


stop the scheme. Well, now there are an average 50 children every single


day going back to Calais and the camps. What responsibility does the


Home Secretary recognise that the policy clearly isn't working? What


does she think will happen to those kids now she's closed the door to


them? I would ask the honourable lady to consider why they are going


back to the camps rather than staying in the centres the French


have taken them to in order to process them. Perhaps it is because


they think they will continue to be able to move to the UK? Does that


help them? It does not. What will help those children is if they are,


if they are processed in France, and can have their claims processed


there. Rather than going back to Calais, back to the mud. I am sure


she wouldn't want that, just as I don't.


I share Jewish ancestry. May I say how distasteful I find it when I


hear some commentators compare the situation today with that in the


1930s and the kinner transport. In those days, there was no opportunity


to go into Germany or the access countries and assist those children


who faced death in concentration camps. In this situation it is very


different. And I simply ask my Right Honourable friend condemn those


commentators, thankfully no-one so far in this House, who do compare


the situation in the '30s with today.


Well, my honourable friend makes a very good point. It is not the same.


Perhaps the one comparison one might make is the cop decisions stiemss of


the camps -- conditions sometimes of the camps in the region, and there


where there is a terrible situation, in some of the camps, is where we


should put all our effort to make sure that we take the children that


we can from that most vulnerable area.


Thank you. Tens of thousands of refugees stranded in Greece,


including hundreds of unaccompanied children are living in appalling


conditions and face immense suffering. Last year the Government


only took five children from there and none under D dubs. What will the


Government do to seek out those who could benefit from the transfers? I


can tell the honourable gentlemen we do have staff in the region to see


which children might qualify under the amendment but also to see which


children might been able to qualify under the Dublin regulations. We are


looking to make sure we assist the children in Greece and Italy that we


can. Thank you Mr Speaker. Whilst the


amendment is one part of the overall strategy on refugees, would my Right


Honourable friend agree with me that the UK's record on the full strategy


has been exemplary and our biggest humanitarian contribution in our


history? My honourable friend is absolutely right. The UK has stepped


upfy Annan Shali and with sup-- financially and with support for


refugees. Half of which will be children. He and the rest of the


country can be proud of the UK's commitment to helping refugees and


the most vunable. Thank you -- Vulnerable. The Prime Minister never


misses an opportunity to tell us that she wants to see Britain as an


out-ward looking player with a global vision. This is an issue


where she would have the opportunity to demonstrate that this country's


global vision is about more than just trade deals. Limiting our


ambition to less than 1% of the desperate children who need to be


helped is not worthy of that vision. Will the Home Secretary look at the


way in which she uses the Dublin regulations? There are discretionary


clauses that could be used more effectively to identify children


with family links already in the UK. The fact is that until we had an


accelerated process and really lent in to identify children that


qualified under the Dublin arrangements into Calais, it was not


really working. The number of children being transferred under


Dublin pre--ously were very small. We managed to transfer nearly 600


under Dublin, the end last year and we will now, I now feel that the


Home Office and other associations, associated organisations with help


us deliver, have learnt how to make sure it operates better in the


future. I am confident that those numbers will improve going forward.


Thank you, Mr Speaker. A two-tire, in fact a multi-tire system in


response to refugees and asylum seeker is emerging with


incomprehensible contradictions. In order to live up to the well


deserved representation that we should be proud for, for those


fleeing war and persecution who see us as a place of safe haven and do


our best for the thousands arriving in Europe, desperate but with huge


potential to offer this country, will she appoint a minister for


refugees and integration? I have a substantial ministerial


team and an excellent Immigration Minister. I don't see the need at


the moment for extra ministers, but I will keep it under review. The UK


is helping the most vulnerable children in the region and it must


be the principal focus for us, but we should revise our approach only


after very careful thought. Can my right honourable friend confirmed


this announcement follows the career advice of our French friends and


allies? I can reassure my honourable friend that I work closely with my


European counterparts and particularly France because it is in


the camps in northern France that a lot of the young people arrive and


create this environment that is so difficult for them and difficult for


the local authorities as well. I will always work closely,


particularly with the French, to ensure our plans work with them.


Does the Minister agree that the secret to reform the system in this


country is a fair dispersal of refugees and asylum seekers? And


what she looked at the situation where my city is happy, with some


strains, to take hundreds of asylum seekers every year. There has never


been any asylum seekers welcome in the constituency of the present


Prime Minister, the past Prime Minister or the present Chancellor


of the Exchequer. I am proud that my constituency in Hastings and ride


does welcome asylum seekers. He is right, we need more constituencies


welcoming asylum seekers. Under the National transfer scheme which


allows councils to help other councils where a lot of these


children arrived, we are encouraging local authorities to step forward on


a voluntary basis so they can spread the support around. The fact is,


Kent had over 1000 children who arrived unaccompanied at one point.


We must do more to spread that out and I would urge members to speak to


the local authorities to take advantage of that. Those who traffic


and abuse young children across Europe really do need the modern


definition of evil people committing evil acts. What are the British


security services and police, together with our European


counterparts, doing to track down, arrest and prosecute these


perpetrators of evil? My honourable friend raises an important point. He


is absolutely right. The human trafficking and misery and abuse


that goes with it is something we will always make sure we combat and


I do work closely with my European counterparts to make sure that we


share information. Our own National Crime Agency work so that we have


serious organised crime groups carefully tracked and we have


Europol which works with ours with other European partners to make sure


we work across Europe to guard against the terrible damage that is


done by these people. I think the Home Secretary is a good person, so


I am not here today to make any personal attack on her, but I want


to ask her what signal she thinks this sense to the world in the wake


of the announcement last week from President Trump in a different


context? There are always those who will say, look after our own.


Charity begins at home. Britain first. America first. French first,


and so on. Does she really want us to be aligned with that sentiment,


or a different one? I would say to the honourable gentleman that we are


not saying we are closing the door, we are pulling up the drawbridge. We


are not saying that and I would urge him an honourable members across the


whole House not to fall into the trap of suggesting that we are not a


country that is welcoming of refugees, we are stepping up to our


obligations and supporting the money and with refugee programme is the


most vulnerable. I do not recognise the comparison he is making and I


hope that other members will share in that position. Like several other


members in this house I saw for myself the conditions in Calais and


can I thank my right honourable friend for the work she did to


transfer children with family in the UK from France to the UK. As she has


also said, in Kent we look after 1000 unaccompanied asylum seeking


children. Does she agree with me that when we welcome front of all


children to the UK we must make sure we can give them a genuine welcome,


that councils have the resources and capacity to look after them as well


as the British children in need of care? It is a good point and we are


fortunate that Kent dustup out because they so often take the brunt


and how to take the largest number of unaccompanied children. We do


need other councils to engage. We need to spread the responsibility


around, but she makes a good point about the need not to feel that this


is job done when we take the children in here. We need to have


care, time, money, professional support to look after these refugees


because they are children, they are here and we will make sure they are


looked after. I think the unfortunate remarks of the


honourable member for Lichfield, is it not the case that it was an act


of humanity that he referred to and it is no less now the same as far as


children are concerned? I think that people will use their own language,


Mr Speaker, but it seems clear to me that the most vulnerable place that


children are that we can help are from the region. We have agreed to


take 3000 of those children by 2020. We will be absolutely sticking to


that. We are also taking about half of the 20,000 coming from Syria by


2020 and that will be children. We will take as many children as we can


under the Dublin arrangement. British charities are working hard


on the ground in the Symbian region is helping people. All my right


honourable friend continued to support the work and continue to


tackle the people trafficking networks who are exploiting the


situation? He is right. British charities and British government is


the second-largest bilateral donor in the region. We work hard to make


sure part of the support we give does go to help children, help to


educate children, so we don't have a children that grows up without any


schooling. We are very focused on making sure we support the people


and children in the region as well as our obligations under refugee


arrangements. I'm genuinely struggling to understand how it


could possibly be in vulnerable loan children's 's interest for us not to


take more of them in. I don't understand what kind of leadership


this is. If we have compassion and humanity and the capacity to take in


more, why are we not doing so? Can I please ask the secretary of State to


take the feeling from the house today and think about changing the


decision she has made. I respect the honourable lady's views, but they


are different to the one we take and it's not because of a lack of


compassion, it's about trying to work out what is better those


children. She has vowed to acknowledge the point that several


members here have made and I have as well, that if we continue to take


numbers of children from European countries, particularly from France,


it will act as a magnet for the traffic that is. I wonder if she has


come across traffickers or children that have been trafficked? The


terrible crime, the danger done to lives. It is imperative that we take


action here to protect those children stop that crime and part of


our process is focusing on the most vulnerable from the region. We


should applaud all councils individuals and families who have


stepped up to the plate in assisting these honourable children. Camber


secretary of State clarify whether the capacity of councils across the


country to host these children has met, exceeded or disappointed the


government's expectations? My honourable friend is right. The part


of the proposal was to make sure the local authorities can support these


children. We need to make sure that when the children arrive there is


not a feeling of job done, rather they are supported to make sure they


have a good life here as well. We consulted with them, they come up


with a number of 400, but I'd like to remind the house that that is not


the total number that councils take in. We have an average of 3000


unaccompanied minors arriving in addition to that, councils


generously stepped forward to support them and we should thank


them for that. I am surprised the Home Secretary didn't understand the


depth of feeling in the house make a statement to the house on base


rather than putting it into a written ministerial statement


yesterday, but I wanted to say to her I am struggling to understand


how it is if you put a cap on the scheme of 350, that is not closing


the scheme? Perhaps the Home Secretary can explain that one more


time? In the act we were required by a date which is fast approaching to


name a number, having consulted with the local councils. We have now done


that. It remains at 150 transferred. At some point it will close, but it


is not closed yet because we still need to transfer 150 under the


amendment. My right honourable friend has already pointed out that


disparity there is in terms of dispersal of these honourable long


-- young children. What more can she do to ensure the children are


received across the country in a variety of local authorities said


they can have the opportunity of a life that we all want them to have?


A good question and I can say we have worked closely with local


authorities. People in my department have gone out, made presentations


across the country. We have had over 400 people attend them. We are


making sure local authorities are able to step up by making sure they


have sufficient support each if the young people, but can also see it as


something that represents the right thing to do when we are experiencing


so many problems from the region and refugees arriving here. So we are


working closely with local authorities on persuasion bases and


urging them to participate and the sign is more of them are stepping


up. When I spend time with my young niece and nephew I wonder what will


happen to them if they were in similar circumstances and I hope and


pray they will find a country of compassion and safety and that's


what we want for all young children across the world. However, can be


Home Secretary tell us what discussions she and her department


had with Lord Dubs and charities before making the decision? My


department meets regularly with children's charities and Lord Dubs.


When the former Prime Minister announced that Britain would take


20,000 Syrian refugees, West Yorkshire led the way in laying out


the scheme. -- West Oxfordshire. Whilst it is necessary that we take


in as many children that we can, it is important to ensure councils have


the capacity to help these families because we are constrained, not by


money, but by things like the availability of translators. It is a


helpful point from my honourable friend. The fact is we want to make


sure that the refugees who arrived here, children, families, adults,


are looked after in the best tradition of the UK. I'm delighted


to hear of his personal involvement and I have heard some fantastic


stories about local churches, local charities stepping up and making


sure that sometimes these frightened families are really well looked


after. I think we see sometimes, Mr Speaker, the really -- the best of


British families. We have been told that the scheme won't be close, just


capped. It seems that hearts are close. Is it not the case that what


we are being treated to is calculated in different just up as a


measure commitment. Will the government do more in both respect


of Dubs and Dublin? It's disappointing that the honourable


gentleman has clearly not heard a word I have said. The efforts of the


UK has gone through, the generosity from local authorities, the


International aid budget. This country is stepping up to its


responsibilities. Having been to a refugee camp on the Iraq border, I


am proud of Britain's because of response to a humanitarian crisis.


If communities and councils want to continue and take more vulnerable


young refugees in the future, will they be welcome to do so? We always


welcome initiatives from local councils to make sure we do look


after the refugees and the children who come over here and I would urge


any local authorities who think they can do more to get in touch with the


national transfer scheme to make sure they can support the councils


who sometimes having to have too many children in the area and long


for additional support. All French centres are closing and today in


this freezing weather there are children in Dunkirk with families in


this country who were hoping to be considered. Will then needs be


assessed if the Dubs scheme is not closed and if not, what she expect


what happened to them? The French have transferred the young people


and indeed all the people from the Calais camp to centres where they


were given beds and food so the applications for asylum could be


considered. She is right that there are some camps now beginning to form


in northern France and I am in constant touch with my French


counterparts. We are helping them with money, support to make sure


another camp does not emerge. The French have a responsibility for the


people the to allow them to apply for asylum in France where they


should do that. We will continue to monitor where we can help and we


will continue to act on Dublin arrangements.


There will always be some who say charity begins at home. He is right.


The important thing is that charity does not stop at home. It never has


in this country and never will be. Which is why I applaud the comments


made which the Home Secretary, recognising the work being done and


will go on being done to help children and refugees from Syria in


general. I thank Gloucestershire County Council and today there have


been some very personal comments made, which I regret from the


honourable member about the Home Secretary. Surely it is time all


members of this House realise whatever our differences of opinion


about the right way forward, everybody and particularly ministers


in the department responsible start from the same position of wanting to


do the best thing. Well, I thank my honourable friend


for his comments and of course it is disappointing when people don't


recognise that we are both sharing an ambition of compassion but we


have a different strategy for delivering on that.


Thank you Mr Speaker. I have to say to the Home Secretary, I think many


in this House have listened to what she said with total disbelief. We


cannot understand, given the intensity of the decision kugs and


debate -- discussion and debate around an amendment made by this


House that the Home Secretary has come forward with a closure of that


scheme. A number well below what any of us would have expected. Does she


not agree where me that the reality will be that many children across


Europe, in desperate need l be left with no hope? No. I do not agree


with him. We have communicated to the French, to other Europe pine


countries what our plan is. And we have discussed with them what is the


best for these children as well I think he fails to understand, he


fails to listen, as so many members have, to the points I am making


about how these children are made vulnerable and what is in their best


interest. I respectfully ask him to reconsider that very high moral tone


that he is taking. We are doing what we believe is best for those


children. He may not agree with it. The honourable lady may say you are


not, you are not. But we are doing what we believe is best. I recognise


he has a different position. I ask him to reconsider his language. The


THE SPEAKER: The capacity of the honourable laider to chunter is not


in doubt. But she should desist. I politely say to her as she's a


supporter of West Ham and, well, anyway, she represents, well, I'm


glad she's an Arsenal supporter, but she represents... She still


shouldn't Chunter. What she could do is blow some bubbles and find it is


therapeutic! We have consulted local authorities on capacity. It is clear


there is the capacity to support the children we intend to take from


Calais as well as continuing to meet our other commitments. I find it


unbelievable that councils would only be willing to take an average


of two children each. Can I ask the Home Secretary, as I asked all local


authorities individually, how many children they could take? Did the


Home Office suggest numbers to each of them? No, Mr Speaker. We did not


suggest numbers to the councils. We set out for them what the challenges


were. What our payments were, which had been increased by 20% on one


scale and 28% on another. So, under 16s were to get ?41,000 of support a


year. Over 16s, ?33,000. We urge councils and we work with them and


we did presentations around the country and they came back to us


with this proposed number. I repeat, accepting the children is one thing,


having the capacity and indeed the confidence to look after them is


what we urge local authorities to think about. And can I say I would


like to share particular thanks to the Scottish authorities, who did so


much to accept particularly the vunlable young women who were moved


from Calais. And they are now making their life in Scotland and we are


very grateful for that. Contrary to what the Secretary of


State seems to believe civil society in my constituency and I am sure


many others are to help the children. I visited St Christopher's


fellowship which took in 30 of the children last year and refugees


welcome which sources accommodation for refugees. They want to do their


bit. Why want her Government? Well, we are very grateful for the work


that Hammersmith has done. I would urge them to consider taking


children who are just as vulnerable from the national transfer scheme.


It is not just from Calais but from the national transfer who need help.


I would urge him to that that conversation as well.


The closure of the scheme will affect the most vulnerable refugees


who have been per cent suited -- persecuted, 90% of who are. Many who


have been in the United Kingdom. Given the UK's role in Iraq over the


last decade, is this where our legacy of aiding and assisting Iraqi


citizens ends? Well, the UK position on aiding refugees from the region,


which is what I think he's asking about, is very strong and it is


added to by the fact that we have one of the largest aid donation


plans in the world, that our point seven commitment and the ?2.3


billion that goes into the region. I think he should join me in being


proud of the commitment, the financial support we give to the


region to make sure we do look after the vulnerable people. I think seen


at first-hand the work my local community has done to assist


refugees. But what sort of moral and political lead does she think the


Government is giving by only doing the bear minimum under the scheme I


identify what the Government and -- I wouldn't identify it as the bare


minimum. We are taking 20,000 vulnerable citizens by 2020. And we


are making sure that we give them thefy than shall support that they


need. I don't recognise the honourable gentleman's


characterisation. Thank you, Mr Speaker. As others have already


said, the Home Secretary says the scheme is not closed, but the UK


needs to send out a strong message against the pool factor. Both these


statements can not be correct. She says she's working with the


intention of the dubs scheme. If that is the case, can she confirm


what she's doing to confirm council authorities to take in more


children, rather than hide behind the excuse that ka passty is already


reached -- capacity is already reached? There is no hiding. We have


another 150 children who will be transferred over the next period


under the Dubs agreement. We are working closely with local


authorities to ensure they have the support for the children that they


have said they will take. I would add that we already have


approximately 3,000 children unaccompanied who arrive a year,


which in addition to the Dubs commitment, local authorities work


with us, through the national transfer scheme, to ensure they look


after. What assessment has been made of the


numbers of children in Greece and Italy, many of whom were working


with charities that belief they would be eligible for the Dubs


commitment? How many of these children will now not be eligible? I


cannot answer how many children will or won't belible until those


assessments have been made. I can say that having accepted 200


children under the Dubs amendment, there'll be another 150. And in


addition to that, we will continue to assess the children to see if


they arelible for the -- are eligible for the Dubs arrangements.


Talk of numbers, was surely the message is whether a children is


vulnerable. On the bigger picture I have visited seven refugee camps. I


want to ask this, there a east a disparity between poor standards and


high standards and the Government seem to do inning to help these


people. One camp is of a very high standard and provides good


education. Some of the other camps are exceedingly poor. What is she


doing and her Government to sort out the people living in these camps and


to help this problem? Well, we do work closely with the organisations


that run some of these camps. I absolutely recognise that they are


of a different standard, but the UK is stepping up with financial


commitment of ?2.3 billion to make sure that we do help make those


camps somewhere where families can exist, where children the be taught.


So I want the honourable gentleman to be in no doubt, we do lean in to


make sure we acyst in the vast movement of people taking place --


we do assist in the vast movement of people taking place in the region.


My understanding as chair of the all party group for disability is the


most vulnerable children, including those with dacts are to be


prioritised. What number of children can disabilities have arrived? What


are the arrangements for vulnerable children who are left behind? I do


say to the honourable lady, that particularly in the clearance of the


Calais camp we were determined to prioritise the most vulnerable,


which is why we moved to remove a lot of the girls and young women who


we believed and the evidence suggested were most vulnerable to


being trafficked. We do prioritise the young people who are more likely


to be vulnerable. In terms of the numbers on the actual amount of


disabled people transferred, I don't have that information. I will


endeavour to have it and come back to her. I know of just one Christian


charity in London housing over 30 children, which appears to be 10% of


the entire national effort. Many faith communities are willing to


step up to what we would like the Government to do themselves. If they


want to do more, will the Home Secretary let them? There is still


plenty of need for support from community organisations like


churches. I have met with several as well that are doing their bit to


welcome families to look after children. I would urge the


honourable gentleman to get in touch through the national transfer scheme


or through my office and we will work loosely to ensure any community


groups which think they can support families or children are able to do


so. I am glad to hear there's going to


be another 150 children coming to the UK under this scheme before it


closes. But can the Secretary of State tell the House, is she able to


look the 150 first child in the -- 150th child in the eye and say, no?


I wonder how the lady would feel about the children from the region?


The children in the camps - they are not in France, not in Italy, they


are the ones in the camps, where the conditions are much, much worse. How


would she feel about looking them in the eye?


Is this not a shameful betrayal, not just of the thousands of children


being secured a future but the tens of thousands of constituents who


signed letters in support of the Dubs amendment. No-one is suggesting


this country is not welcoming of refugees, but it increasingly


appears the Government isn't. I would urge the honourable gentleman


perhaps to correct any misunderstandings that anybody has


got. The fact is, we have stuck to the agreement in the Dubs agreement.


We were obliged to put out a number, having consulted with local


authorities. Perhaps he would consider putting out a message to


constituents so they are clear that the Government is stepping up to


commitments. Is taking 2000 by 20 -- 20,000 by 2020. We are proud of our


response. Mr Speaker, last week I met with a tech company, whose staff


volunteered to create a digital classroom project for 150 children


at a camp in Dunkirk. These children are stuck there. Why is it that


everybody in this country seems to be willing to do something to help,


organisations, companies, individuals, what signal does it


send out that the Government is not meeting its commitments The


honourable lady should be clear the Government is meeting its


commitments. And it is exceeding them. In terms of the aid that we


give to the region of ?2.3 billion. In terms of making sure we bring


over from the region the most vulnerable. 20,000 by 2020. Most of


all, most of all, making sure that the children who arrive here are


looked after. They are given the support, they are often from


vulnerable areas and we ensure that the local authorities have that. We


should be proud of our response. Before we proceed to business


question, I would like to congreat late the member from new port West


on his 82nd birthday and on reaching the mid-point of his parliamentary


career. Business


Live coverage of debate in the Commons on an urgent question from the Labour chair of the Home Affairs Committee on the government's decision to stop receiving unaccompanied child refugees.