Withdrawal Agreement- Refugee protection
The purpose of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill is to deliver on the withdrawal agreement. The role of this bill It is not to set out the future of negotiations but to allow UK to move forward into these negotiations. I agree that we should continue to help child refugees but do not feel that this was an appropriate place to legislate for this.
The UK’s resettlement schemes are an integral component of our humanitarian response. The government are fully committed both to the principle of family reunion and to supporting the most vulnerable children. Over the past five years, the government have granted over 26,000 family reunion visas to family members of refugees. More than half of those resettled under the governments existing programmes are children, the majority of whom have been resettled with their families.
It is important to remember that the UK has already signed up to the Council of Europe’s action plan which enhances the integration of child refugees into host societies. Under the Dublin regulation, children will continue to be reunited with their families during the implementation period. Both commitments remaining in place without the need of amendment 4.
The debate that took place showed that there is strong support on the Government Benches for the principle of family reunion and steps are already being taken to ensure we continue to help those most in need. The Home Secretary wrote to the European Commission on 22nd October to start negotiations with the European Union on future arrangements and will continue these discussions in the coming months.
The government recognise the importance of family reunion for refugees and will continue to support this where possible.