Home Secretary Amber Rudd: Dubs amendment 'encourages people traffickers'
A scheme designed to bring unaccompanied child refugees to the UK is being scrapped partly because it 'encourages people traffickers', the Home Secretary said this morning.
The Government announced yesterday that only 350 children would be coming to the UK under the scheme put forward by Labour peer Lord Dubs, far fewer than the 3,000 he had asked for.
Ministers accepted an amendment to the Immigration Bill last year, although then Prime Minister David Cameron never made a firm commitment on numbers.
Yesterday's statement from Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill said the reason the scheme was being stopped was that councils had told him they only had space for 400 children, of whom 200 have already arrived in the UK.
But this morning Amber Rudd suggested another reason was that the French authorities had urged her not to make the Dubs scheme open-ended as it encourages people to make the dangerous journey to Europe.
Answering an Urgent Question from Labour MP Yvette Cooper, she said: "I am clear that when working with my French counterparts, they do not want us to indefinitely continue to accept children under the Dubs amendment because they specify and I agree with them that it acts as a draw, it acts as a pull, it encourages the people traffickers."
Ms Rudd came under fire from both Ms Cooper and Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott asking the minister: "How does she live with herself, leaving thousands of children subject to disease, people trafficking, squalor and hopelessness?"
Labour MP Pat McFadden compared the Government's position to the rhetoric espoused by populist politicians such as Donald Trump, saying: "There are always those who will say: look after our own, charity begins at home, Britain first, America first, France first and so on. Does she really want us to be aligned with that sentiment or a different one?"
In the House of Lords, Lord Dubs himself accused ministers of failing to honour their previous commitments to his plan.
"It wasn’t long ago that I remember the Prime Minister when she was Home Secretary told me the Government was prepared to accept the amendment," he said.
"It was on the same day the then immigration minister told me the Government would accept the letter and the spirit of that amendment. I believe in arbitrarily closing down the scheme without any good reason for doing so the Government is in breach of its own commitments.”
'JUST ONE ELEMENT'
But a Downing St spokesman rejected the idea the Government was only taking in 350 children, arguing that the Dubs scheme was "just one element" or seven or eight different mechanisms for resettling refugees.
"It isn't 350. In the past year alone we've brought in 8,000 vulnerable children," he said.
'NAME AND SHAME'
Conservative MP Will Quince also hit out at the news, issuing a statement accusing councils of not doing enough to house vulnerable people.
He said that while some councils were performing admirably, it was time to "name and shame" other local authorities who had not taken a single person in.