Syrian Refugees

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:42 pm on 29th January 2014.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department 12:42 pm, 29th January 2014

I think this is an issue on which Members from all parties across the House can genuinely come together and welcome the steps—all the steps—taken by the Government to provide aid and support to those suffering from the terrible humanitarian crisis resulting from the conflict in Syria.

The right hon. Lady asked several questions, the first about the numbers. We have not set a figure. As the Deputy Prime Minister made clear earlier today, we expect several hundred refugees to come, but we have not set a quota precisely because we want to look at particular needs.

It is particular needs that drive the answer to right hon. Lady’s second question, about specialist help and support. We will of course look to the arrangements we have used for the gateway programme, for example, to see the extent to which we will be able to relocate refugees in line with our existing structures and relationships with local authorities, but there will be people, identified on a case-by-case basis, who need very particular assistance—perhaps very particular medical assistance. We will of course seek to ensure that that is provided for those individuals.

The scheme I have announced is, I think, in the spirit of the UNHCR programme, but it is not technically part of it. The UNHCR has welcomed what we are doing—[Interruption.] I have to say to the Opposition Front Benchers that I think they are trying to make an argument where we do not need to have one. We took a very simple decision. We wanted to create a scheme that gives us greater flexibility and enables us to focus clearly on the issues on which the Government as a whole have been focusing, particularly women and girls at risk and preventing sexual violence. I hope that the whole House accepts that the scheme will offer genuine benefit to some of the most vulnerable people who have been displaced from Syria, and that it will welcome the scheme.