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

:00:00.:00:00.

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

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

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

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

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of State. We have pledged over ?2.3 billion in

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

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

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hosting, supporting and protecting the most vulnerable children

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

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

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4400 individuals resettled through the Syrian vulnerable persons

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

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2016 we transferred over 900 unaccompanied asylum seeking

:01:18.:01:21.

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

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

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

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Yesterday the government announced that in accordance with section 67

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

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children pursuant to that section who reasonably meet the intention

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and spirit behind the provision. This number includes over 200

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

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

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legislation we have consulted with local authorities on the capacity to

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care for unaccompanied asylum seeking children before arriving at

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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increased funding for local authorities caring for unaccompanied

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

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steps to improve an already comprehensive approach and we are

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

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government's active approach to helping and sheltering the most

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

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

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

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government cancelled the scheme after it had been running for less

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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prostitution rings, traffickers and modern slavery, that this government

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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has strong reputation in Europe and internationally for looking after

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

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

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

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

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

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French counterparts they do not want us to indefinitely continue to

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

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

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

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her to think very carefully about the approaching prefers.

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

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

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

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

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

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work that local authorities do. We must not underestimate the

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difficulty there is sometimes, particularly taking children who

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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care of the French authorities. They may be technically the

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responsibility of the French authorities, but many of these

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

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They are sleeping in formal encampmentens and they are making

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

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

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

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conversations has been had with the Italian and French Governments

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

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herself, leaving thousands of people, and members opposite can

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

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children subject to disease, people trafficking, squalor and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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take refugees from the most vulnerable places. She doubts how

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

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

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

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

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

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

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counterparts about the best way to address helping these children and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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indefinitely open is the best outcome for them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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but abandon encouraging human trafficking by taking them from

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

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substantial experience in this area having worked so hard on human

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

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

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

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

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would urge them to support us on that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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children already in Europe and many of these children are unaccompanied

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and vulnerable. The Lord has described what was done

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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transfer another 150 children. And we have Home Office representatives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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there should be more resources for local authorities? Will the

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Government please reintroduce a minister for refugees, not just

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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that amendment. Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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hear some commentators compare the situation today with that in the

:17:43.:17:47.

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

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

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

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

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

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the situation in the '30s with today.

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

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

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

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

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

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we can from that most vulnerable area.

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

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including hundreds of unaccompanied children are living in appalling

:18:47.:18:50.

conditions and face immense suffering. Last year the Government

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

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

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

:19:08.:19:11.

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

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

:19:17.:19:20.

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

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can. Thank you Mr Speaker. Whilst the

:19:24.:19:29.

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

:19:30.:19:33.

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

:19:34.:19:39.

has been exemplary and our biggest humanitarian contribution in our

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

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

:19:50.:19:53.

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

:19:54.:19:58.

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

:19:59.:20:02.

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

:20:03.:20:05.

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

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

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

:20:16.:20:20.

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

:20:21.:20:25.

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

:20:26.:20:29.

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

:20:30.:20:33.

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

:20:34.:20:38.

clauses that could be used more effectively to identify children

:20:39.:20:48.

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

:20:49.:20:54.

accelerated process and really lent in to identify children that

:20:55.:20:58.

qualified under the Dublin arrangements into Calais, it was not

:20:59.:21:02.

really working. The number of children being transferred under

:21:03.:21:06.

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

:21:07.:21:11.

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

:21:12.:21:17.

Home Office and other associations, associated organisations with help

:21:18.:21:20.

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

:21:21.:21:24.

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

:21:25.:21:29.

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

:21:30.:21:33.

response to refugees and asylum seeker is emerging with

:21:34.:21:39.

incomprehensible contradictions. In order to live up to the well

:21:40.:21:42.

deserved representation that we should be proud for, for those

:21:43.:21:46.

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

:21:47.:21:52.

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

:21:53.:21:56.

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

:21:57.:22:00.

refugees and integration? I have a substantial ministerial

:22:01.:22:11.

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

:22:12.:22:16.

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

:22:17.:22:20.

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

:22:21.:22:26.

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

:22:27.:22:32.

after very careful thought. Can my right honourable friend confirmed

:22:33.:22:36.

this announcement follows the career advice of our French friends and

:22:37.:22:40.

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

:22:41.:22:44.

European counterparts and particularly France because it is in

:22:45.:22:48.

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

:22:49.:22:55.

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

:22:56.:22:58.

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

:22:59.:23:02.

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

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

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

:23:19.:23:22.

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

:23:23.:23:27.

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

:23:28.:23:32.

been any asylum seekers welcome in the constituency of the present

:23:33.:23:38.

Prime Minister, the past Prime Minister or the present Chancellor

:23:39.:23:43.

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

:23:44.:23:47.

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

:23:48.:23:54.

welcoming asylum seekers. Under the National transfer scheme which

:23:55.:23:57.

allows councils to help other councils where a lot of these

:23:58.:24:01.

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

:24:02.:24:04.

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

:24:05.:24:11.

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

:24:12.:24:15.

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

:24:16.:24:20.

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

:24:21.:24:23.

and abuse young children across Europe really do need the modern

:24:24.:24:29.

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

:24:30.:24:33.

security services and police, together with our European

:24:34.:24:39.

counterparts, doing to track down, arrest and prosecute these

:24:40.:24:44.

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

:24:45.:24:49.

is absolutely right. The human trafficking and misery and abuse

:24:50.:24:53.

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

:24:54.:24:58.

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

:24:59.:25:02.

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

:25:03.:25:07.

serious organised crime groups carefully tracked and we have

:25:08.:25:11.

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

:25:12.:25:15.

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

:25:16.:25:22.

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

:25:23.:25:26.

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

:25:27.:25:30.

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

:25:31.:25:34.

of the announcement last week from President Trump in a different

:25:35.:25:40.

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

:25:41.:25:45.

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

:25:46.:25:51.

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

:25:52.:25:57.

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

:25:58.:26:00.

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

:26:01.:26:05.

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

:26:06.:26:09.

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

:26:10.:26:14.

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

:26:15.:26:19.

obligations and supporting the money and with refugee programme is the

:26:20.:26:23.

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

:26:24.:26:26.

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

:26:27.:26:35.

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

:26:36.:26:37.

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

:26:38.:26:41.

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

:26:42.:26:49.

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

:26:50.:26:52.

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

:26:53.:26:56.

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

:26:57.:27:00.

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

:27:01.:27:04.

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

:27:05.:27:09.

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

:27:10.:27:13.

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

:27:14.:27:18.

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

:27:19.:27:22.

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

:27:23.:27:26.

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

:27:27.:27:31.

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

:27:32.:27:35.

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

:27:36.:27:40.

looked after. I think the unfortunate remarks of the

:27:41.:27:45.

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

:27:46.:27:53.

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

:27:54.:28:01.

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

:28:02.:28:05.

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

:28:06.:28:10.

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

:28:11.:28:15.

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

:28:16.:28:20.

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

:28:21.:28:26.

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

:28:27.:28:33.

under the Dublin arrangement. British charities are working hard

:28:34.:28:37.

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

:28:38.:28:40.

honourable friend continued to support the work and continue to

:28:41.:28:44.

tackle the people trafficking networks who are exploiting the

:28:45.:28:50.

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

:28:51.:28:56.

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

:28:57.:29:00.

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

:29:01.:29:04.

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

:29:05.:29:07.

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

:29:08.:29:11.

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

:29:12.:29:17.

arrangements. I'm genuinely struggling to understand how it

:29:18.:29:23.

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

:29:24.:29:27.

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

:29:28.:29:31.

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

:29:32.:29:38.

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

:29:39.:29:40.

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

:29:41.:29:46.

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

:29:47.:29:49.

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

:29:50.:29:52.

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

:29:53.:29:57.

children. She has vowed to acknowledge the point that several

:29:58.:30:00.

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

:30:01.:30:04.

numbers of children from European countries, particularly from France,

:30:05.:30:08.

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

:30:09.:30:14.

come across traffickers or children that have been trafficked? The

:30:15.:30:17.

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

:30:18.:30:22.

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

:30:23.:30:26.

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

:30:27.:30:34.

should applaud all councils individuals and families who have

:30:35.:30:39.

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

:30:40.:30:42.

secretary of State clarify whether the capacity of councils across the

:30:43.:30:48.

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

:30:49.:30:53.

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

:30:54.:30:57.

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

:30:58.:31:00.

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

:31:01.:31:08.

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

:31:09.:31:12.

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

:31:13.:31:16.

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

:31:17.:31:20.

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

:31:21.:31:29.

unaccompanied minors arriving in addition to that, councils

:31:30.:31:32.

generously stepped forward to support them and we should thank

:31:33.:31:38.

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

:31:39.:31:41.

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

:31:42.:31:45.

rather than putting it into a written ministerial statement

:31:46.:31:47.

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

:31:48.:31:52.

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

:31:53.:31:58.

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

:31:59.:32:04.

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

:32:05.:32:09.

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

:32:10.:32:17.

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

:32:18.:32:22.

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

:32:23.:32:27.

amendment. My right honourable friend has already pointed out that

:32:28.:32:30.

disparity there is in terms of dispersal of these honourable long

:32:31.:32:36.

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

:32:37.:32:40.

received across the country in a variety of local authorities said

:32:41.:32:43.

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

:32:44.:32:49.

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

:32:50.:32:54.

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

:32:55.:32:58.

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

:32:59.:33:02.

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

:33:03.:33:05.

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

:33:06.:33:11.

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

:33:12.:33:15.

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

:33:16.:33:20.

working closely with local authorities on persuasion bases and

:33:21.:33:23.

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

:33:24.:33:30.

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

:33:31.:33:34.

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

:33:35.:33:38.

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

:33:39.:33:41.

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

:33:42.:33:47.

Home Secretary tell us what discussions she and her department

:33:48.:33:51.

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

:33:52.:33:59.

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

:34:00.:34:02.

When the former Prime Minister announced that Britain would take

:34:03.:34:10.

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

:34:11.:34:27.

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

:34:28.:34:32.

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

:34:33.:34:36.

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

:34:37.:34:40.

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

:34:41.:34:46.

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

:34:47.:34:51.

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

:34:52.:34:56.

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

:34:57.:35:00.

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

:35:01.:35:04.

stories about local churches, local charities stepping up and making

:35:05.:35:08.

sure that sometimes these frightened families are really well looked

:35:09.:35:13.

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

:35:14.:35:22.

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

:35:23.:35:27.

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

:35:28.:35:35.

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

:35:36.:35:39.

measure commitment. Will the government do more in both respect

:35:40.:35:47.

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

:35:48.:35:51.

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

:35:52.:35:56.

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

:35:57.:36:05.

International aid budget. This country is stepping up to its

:36:06.:36:09.

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

:36:10.:36:13.

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

:36:14.:36:24.

If communities and councils want to continue and take more vulnerable

:36:25.:36:28.

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

:36:29.:36:34.

welcome initiatives from local councils to make sure we do look

:36:35.:36:37.

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

:36:38.:36:41.

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

:36:42.:36:45.

national transfer scheme to make sure they can support the councils

:36:46.:36:49.

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

:36:50.:36:56.

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

:36:57.:37:00.

this freezing weather there are children in Dunkirk with families in

:37:01.:37:04.

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

:37:05.:37:10.

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

:37:11.:37:15.

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

:37:16.:37:18.

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

:37:19.:37:24.

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

:37:25.:37:28.

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

:37:29.:37:32.

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

:37:33.:37:35.

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

:37:36.:37:44.

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

:37:45.:37:48.

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

:37:49.:37:52.

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

:37:53.:37:56.

will continue to act on Dublin arrangements.

:37:57.:38:04.

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

:38:05.:38:08.

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

:38:09.:38:13.

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

:38:14.:38:17.

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

:38:18.:38:22.

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

:38:23.:38:30.

general. I thank Gloucestershire County Council and today there have

:38:31.:38:34.

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

:38:35.:38:38.

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

:38:39.:38:42.

members of this House realise whatever our differences of opinion

:38:43.:38:45.

about the right way forward, everybody and particularly ministers

:38:46.:38:48.

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

:38:49.:38:53.

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

:38:54.:38:58.

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

:38:59.:39:03.

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

:39:04.:39:07.

have a different strategy for delivering on that.

:39:08.:39:11.

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

:39:12.:39:15.

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

:39:16.:39:21.

cannot understand, given the intensity of the decision kugs and

:39:22.:39:27.

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

:39:28.:39:31.

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

:39:32.:39:35.

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

:39:36.:39:40.

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

:39:41.:39:45.

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

:39:46.:39:52.

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

:39:53.:39:57.

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

:39:58.:40:01.

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

:40:02.:40:05.

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

:40:06.:40:10.

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

:40:11.:40:15.

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

:40:16.:40:19.

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

:40:20.:40:25.

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

:40:26.:40:29.

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

:40:30.:40:33.

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

:40:34.:40:41.

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

:40:42.:40:46.

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

:40:47.:40:51.

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

:40:52.:40:56.

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

:40:57.:41:03.

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

:41:04.:41:12.

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

:41:13.:41:16.

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

:41:17.:41:19.

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

:41:20.:41:23.

unbelievable that councils would only be willing to take an average

:41:24.:41:28.

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

:41:29.:41:33.

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

:41:34.:41:38.

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

:41:39.:41:43.

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

:41:44.:41:47.

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

:41:48.:41:53.

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

:41:54.:42:00.

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

:42:01.:42:03.

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

:42:04.:42:08.

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

:42:09.:42:12.

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

:42:13.:42:15.

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

:42:16.:42:19.

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

:42:20.:42:25.

much to accept particularly the vunlable young women who were moved

:42:26.:42:29.

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

:42:30.:42:34.

very grateful for that. Contrary to what the Secretary of

:42:35.:42:38.

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

:42:39.:42:42.

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

:42:43.:42:49.

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

:42:50.:42:52.

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

:42:53.:42:58.

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

:42:59.:43:02.

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

:43:03.:43:07.

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

:43:08.:43:13.

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

:43:14.:43:16.

I would urge him to that that conversation as well.

:43:17.:43:22.

The closure of the scheme will affect the most vulnerable refugees

:43:23.:43:29.

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

:43:30.:43:36.

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

:43:37.:43:41.

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

:43:42.:43:47.

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

:43:48.:43:50.

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

:43:51.:43:54.

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

:43:55.:44:00.

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

:44:01.:44:06.

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

:44:07.:44:11.

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

:44:12.:44:15.

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

:44:16.:44:22.

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

:44:23.:44:25.

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

:44:26.:44:32.

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

:44:33.:44:38.

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

:44:39.:44:44.

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

:44:45.:44:48.

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

:44:49.:44:54.

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

:44:55.:44:57.

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

:44:58.:45:02.

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

:45:03.:45:07.

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

:45:08.:45:10.

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

:45:11.:45:14.

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

:45:15.:45:20.

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

:45:21.:45:24.

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

:45:25.:45:28.

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

:45:29.:45:33.

another 150 children who will be transferred over the next period

:45:34.:45:37.

under the Dubs agreement. We are working closely with local

:45:38.:45:40.

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

:45:41.:45:43.

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

:45:44.:45:48.

approximately 3,000 children unaccompanied who arrive a year,

:45:49.:45:52.

which in addition to the Dubs commitment, local authorities work

:45:53.:45:56.

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

:45:57.:46:00.

after. What assessment has been made of the

:46:01.:46:04.

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

:46:05.:46:08.

with charities that belief they would be eligible for the Dubs

:46:09.:46:11.

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

:46:12.:46:17.

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

:46:18.:46:22.

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

:46:23.:46:26.

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

:46:27.:46:28.

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

:46:29.:46:37.

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

:46:38.:46:41.

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

:46:42.:46:48.

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

:46:49.:46:55.

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

:46:56.:46:59.

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

:47:00.:47:04.

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

:47:05.:47:07.

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

:47:08.:47:11.

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

:47:12.:47:17.

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

:47:18.:47:20.

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

:47:21.:47:25.

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

:47:26.:47:29.

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

:47:30.:47:34.

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

:47:35.:47:38.

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

:47:39.:47:45.

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

:47:46.:47:49.

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

:47:50.:47:56.

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

:47:57.:48:00.

most vulnerable children, including those with dacts are to be

:48:01.:48:05.

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

:48:06.:48:09.

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

:48:10.:48:15.

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

:48:16.:48:20.

Calais camp we were determined to prioritise the most vulnerable,

:48:21.:48:24.

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

:48:25.:48:29.

we believed and the evidence suggested were most vulnerable to

:48:30.:48:34.

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

:48:35.:48:38.

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

:48:39.:48:41.

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

:48:42.:48:45.

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

:48:46.:48:52.

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

:48:53.:48:56.

the entire national effort. Many faith communities are willing to

:48:57.:48:59.

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

:49:00.:49:02.

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

:49:03.:49:08.

plenty of need for support from community organisations like

:49:09.:49:11.

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

:49:12.:49:14.

welcome families to look after children. I would urge the

:49:15.:49:19.

honourable gentleman to get in touch through the national transfer scheme

:49:20.:49:22.

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

:49:23.:49:26.

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

:49:27.:49:32.

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

:49:33.:49:38.

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

:49:39.:49:42.

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

:49:43.:49:49.

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

:49:50.:49:54.

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

:49:55.:49:58.

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

:49:59.:50:03.

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

:50:04.:50:06.

would she feel about looking them in the eye?

:50:07.:50:11.

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

:50:12.:50:18.

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

:50:19.:50:23.

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

:50:24.:50:27.

this country is not welcoming of refugees, but it increasingly

:50:28.:50:30.

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

:50:31.:50:33.

perhaps to correct any misunderstandings that anybody has

:50:34.:50:37.

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

:50:38.:50:42.

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

:50:43.:50:44.

authorities. Perhaps he would consider putting out a message to

:50:45.:50:48.

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

:50:49.:50:55.

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

:50:56.:51:00.

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

:51:01.:51:06.

volunteered to create a digital classroom project for 150 children

:51:07.:51:10.

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

:51:11.:51:15.

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

:51:16.:51:20.

organisations, companies, individuals, what signal does it

:51:21.:51:24.

send out that the Government is not meeting its commitments The

:51:25.:51:28.

honourable lady should be clear the Government is meeting its

:51:29.:51:30.

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

:51:31.:51:36.

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

:51:37.:51:39.

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

:51:40.:51:44.

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

:51:45.:51:48.

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

:51:49.:51:52.

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

:51:53.:51:59.

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

:52:00.:52:05.

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

:52:06.:52:10.

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

:52:11.:52:13.

career. Business

:52:14.:52:14.

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.