Sri Lanka

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 2nd May 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz Labour, Leicester East 4:45 pm, 2nd May 2007

The hon. Lady is absolutely right. It is wrong for such people to be treated in that way and to feel that fear. Whoever is spinning that fear—whether it be the Sri Lankan Government or others—should stop. Participating in the British political process is the right of every British citizen. Contrary to the view that those people are here as asylum seekers or refugees—an idea that has been mentioned—they are members of the settled community. Clearly, some are asylum seekers or seeking refugee status, but others are very well established here, and they should feel able to be open about their involvement in political meetings and the British political process. We need to make sure that that happens.

It is therefore important that we take a lead, for the reasons mentioned by other Members. We have a responsibility, the historical ties with our country are profound and, as we have heard, this country gave independence to Sri Lanka. We have a special bond and relationship because of the large community living here and because of our previous responsibilities. We should seize the moment. I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen is going to Sri Lanka again, and I hope that the Minister of State will also visit in the near future, as he started a process that he ought to continue. If he does continue that process, whenever he visits, that would be useful.