Bill to reunite child refugees in UK with families passes latest Commons hurdle
A bid to give child refugees in the UK the right to be reunited with their families has cleared its latest parliamentary hurdle.
The Refugee Families Reunion Bill passed its second reading after MPs from across the House backed it without the need for a vote.
The private member's bill brought forward by SNP MP Angus MacNeil would allow child refugees in the UK to bring close family members to join them from the likes of war torn Syria.
It would also allow those over 18 to be reunited with family members and bring back legal aid to help those going through the process to fight their case.
Mr MacNeil told MPs: "You’d have to have a very hard heart, or really an empathy bypass not to ensure that these very limited measures that I ask for today do not become law."
Despite the Government arguing against the bill, it was backed by a number of Conservative backbenchers including Anna Soubry and Bob Neill.
In a Commons clash, Ms Soubry turned on party colleague Ranil Jayawardena after he attempted to talk out the bill and derail its progress.
He said those in favour of it had not “thought through the implications” such as a “strain on public services” that could happen as a result of the changes.
But Ms Soubry said his half-hour long intervention was “not one of his greatest contributions” and said her party “stands proud on offering places of refuge”.
Shadow Immigration minister Afzal Khan laid out Labour's backing for the bill, saying it would be "transformational" for the families it would help.
"Reforming refugee family rules is a simple, but important step in addressing anomalies in our system," he said.
"It would affect a small number of people, but would be transformational for their lives."
Other prominent MPs from across the House took to Twitter to show their support.
But Writing for the Times Red Box this morning, Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes laid out why the Government did not support the bill.
"Our priority for now should be concentrating our efforts on ensuring that our existing resettlement schemes are used to full effect and that the current Rules are working properly and effectively," she said.