Home Office forced to apologise for 'Yes Minister' admin error on lone child refugees

Posted On: 
27th April 2017

The Government has been forced into an apology after an administrative error meant an additional 130 lone refugee children were left stranded on the continent.

Lord Dubs accused ministers of having "ignored" his insistence that councils had more spaces for lone refugee children
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Home Office minister Baroness Williams said the blunder was “most unfortunate” after it was likened to a farce out of 80s sitcom Yes Minister.

It emerged yesterday that a further 130 children fleeing conflict in the Middle East who had already arrived in Europe would be brought to the UK under the so-called Dubs scheme – bringing the total to 480.

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Ministers said due to an “administrative error” the number of places for such kids to be housed by local authorities had been miscalculated.​

Labour peer Lord Dubs – who campaigned doggedly for thousands of lone child refugees in Europe to be permitted sanctuary in Britain – tore into the Government today.

“I welcome the fact that the Government announced that a further 130 children will be taken into this country... even if the reason is the Home Office having to hang its head in shame because it made an administrative error as part of collating the figures,” he said in the Lords today.

Witheringly, he added: “That comes out of Yes Minister.”

Baroness Williams responded: “The administrative error is most unfortunate and for that I apologise. I apologise, My Lords. I wouldn’t want to see that happening.

“The good news is we have an additional 130 places and I think we should all be very pleased about that.”

Lord Dubs called for a reassessment of the number of available places but Baroness Williams said she could not offer any further information since Parliament ends today ahead of the general election.

When news of the error emerged last night Lord Dubs told PoliticsHome he was “shocked” and accused ministers of having “ignored” his insistence that councils had more spaces.

Campaigners were left outraged in February after the Government said just 350 children would be allowed into the UK under the scheme before it closed.

Government sources had reportedly suggested last year that as many as 3,000 of the stricken youngsters could be accepted by Britain.

Ministers have stressed that thousands of other child refugees were resettled in Britain last year under programmes bringing vulnerable people directly from the region.