Hastings and Rye MP defends child refugee policy

Amber Rudd addressing the Government's child refugee policy in the House of Commons (photo from Parliament.tv).
Amber Rudd addressing the Government's child refugee policy in the House of Commons (photo from Parliament.tv).

Hastings and Rye’s MP has defended the Government’s child refugee policy against Labour accusations of ‘shameful’ behaviour.

In a written ministerial statement on Wednesday, the Home Office said it would limit the number of children taken by the country via the so-called Dubs amendment to 350.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who is Hastings and Rye’s MP, said she was ‘proud’ the UK had played a role in helping the French close the Calais Camp ‘safely and compassionately’.

She stated the Dubs scheme ‘is not closed’, adding: “As required by the legislation, we consulted local authorities on their capacity to care for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children before arriving at the number.

“We are grateful for the way in which local authorities have stepped up to provide places for those arriving, and we will continue to work closely to address capacity needs.

“The Government have always been clear that we do not want to incentivise perilous journeys to Europe, particularly by the most vulnerable children.”

But former Labour minister Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “The Home Secretary knows that what she is doing is shameful.

“Not only has she closed the Dubs programme, but she has cancelled the fast-track Dublin scheme to help those with family here.

“The Home Secretary did very good work in the autumn of last year to help those in Calais and to make sure we could take as many children as possible, and I commended her for it.

“But she also knows that most of those have family here already and were entitled to be here.”

In the House of Commons yesterday (Thursday February 9), Mrs Rudd responded: “I completely reject the right honourable lady’s attack.

“The UK has a strong reputation in Europe and internationally for looking after the most vulnerable. That will continue.

“We have a different approach to where the most vulnerable are.

“We believe that they are in the region, and that is why we have made a pledge to accept 3,000 children from the region. We are committed to delivering on that. They are the most vulnerable.”

The Dubs amendment to the Immigration Act 2016 required the Home Secretary to bring a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children to the UK after consultation with local authorities.

The ministerial statement said: “The Government will transfer the specified number of 350 children pursuant to that section, who reasonably meet the intention and spirit behind the provision.”

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