I was surprised by the letter last week accusing me of hypocrisy over the issue of child refugees. It is a charge I totally refute but it comes from a misunderstanding of my role in the so called Dubs law which has formed the legal basis for relocating child refugees from Europe and particularly Calais.
I have taken a lead in Parliament in championing the cause of refugees and helped ensure the Government stepped up its response by extending resettlement schemes, including 3000 places for children at risk in the Middle East and North Africa region. In relation to the Dubs law I voted against the original amendment because it would not have worked in practice. As MPs we have a duty to pass good law not just good campaign pledges. I therefore worked with the Government to revise the amendment to ensure there is a sound legal basis to respond to the crisis in Calais and transfer vulnerable child refugees. I am pleased that we are now seeing several hundred child refugees being relocated.
I have visited Calais twice to draw attention to the plight of lone children and asked questions in Parliament and met regularly with ministers to get the complex practical operation of relocation right. There are still serious questions about providing safety for children dispersed across France and not to discriminate on the basis of age. I have consistently pressed the Government to do more to uphold our historic and current duty to provide refuge for those fleeing persecution, and will continue to do so. I have consistently advocated for this Government to provide shelter for unaccompanied minors, and will continue to do so. I have consistently worked with NGOs from Save the Children and UNICEF to the Red Cross and Medicins Sans Frontiers, as well as MPs on both sides of the House and will continue to do so.
In terms of saying one thing and doing another I think the spotlight should remain on Enfield Council. The Council has said it wants to welcome more refugees but, whilst it does house a significant number of asylum seekers, it has not to date accepted the relocation of any Syrians from the VPR scheme or children from Calais as part of the Dubs scheme.