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Statement: Refugee (Family Reunion) Bill

March 2, 2018

I am completely in agreement with the sponsors of the bill that the current definition of family that guides sponsorship allowance is obtuse and limiting. This inadequate definition lacks the level of empathy that I would expect the Government to practice upon welcoming refugees into our country.

It shocks me that the UK is one of only two countries in Europe where adult refugees can apply for their immediate family members to join them, but children cannot. It is a true travesty that children who have already been through the trauma of fleeing their homes and leaving behind their family, are expected to continue suffering once they reach apparent safety. 

As you will be aware, children are not the only ones who suffer under the current strict rules. Entire families of all shapes and sizes are affected. The extension of the list of eligible family members is an important step in committing to the wellbeing of all refugees, as is the reinstatement of legal aid. The Conservative government removed family reunion cases from the scope of legal aid under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, ignoring the fact that many complex family reunion applications benefit from legal expertise.

I will make every effort to attend the debate when the Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill reaches the House of Commons. I am happy to join the demand that the Government adopts rules that allow families to be re-united safely and without fear.

I look forward to continue campaigning with you for the introduction of the measures in the Bill.