Rochdale MP, Tony Lloyd, has hit out at the Conservative Government for voting down a proposal to preserve family reunion rights for child refugees after the UK’s transition out of the EU’s immigration rules on 31 December.
Tony Lloyd said, “Alf Dubs, who moved amendments in the Lords designed to protect child refugees, is not only a friend and a man I admire, but himself arrived in the UK as a child refugee from Hitler’s Nazi regime.
“Families belong together, and as a decent and humanitarian country, we should be doing everything we can to help reunite families that have been separated after experiencing the trauma of war, persecution and conflict.
“This vote took place just a week after the death of two Iranian children and their parents on a small boat in the English Channel. I find that immeasurably sad.
“I believe that most people in Rochdale would sooner have given shelter and support to this family than see the fate which befell them.”
Without a new agreement with the EU, the existing arrangements will end this year and the Government’s proposals for family reunion in the future are woefully inadequate. Not only do the proposals remove all mandatory requirements to activate family reunions, they remove the child’s right to appeal against refusal and some children will no longer be considered for refugee status at all.
Tony Lloyd said, “The Government must be held to account on its repeated commitment to the principle of family reunion and supporting vulnerable children. These rights were agreed to when the UK was a member of the EU, and it’s perverse that they are not carried forward.”
Lord Dubs’s proposal has twice been approved by the House of Lords, but twice rejected by the Commons . Lord Dubs said the defeat was “very disappointing” but said a further attempt may be made to offer assistance to child migrants when the bill returns to the upper House.