Relocation of Migrants in need of International Protection (Opt-in Decision)

Part of European Union (Approvals) Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 6:54 pm on 14th December 2015.

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Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Scottish National Party, Glenrothes 6:54 pm, 14th December 2015

I welcome the chance to debate this vital humanitarian issue, but like Sir William Cash, I am deeply disappointed that it has taken so long to bring it to the Chamber. As was pointed out by the Labour Front-Bench spokesman, Keir Starmer, it is six months since the European Scrutiny Committee first asked for this debate. It may be longer since it first asked for another debate, but I was not in Parliament to know that.

The Chair of the Select Committee has gone in detail through the steps the Committee had to take to get this debate, so I will repeat them. On 11 December, three days ago, he finally got answers to some of the questions he had been asking for months, and in some cases, for years. Today, six days after it was too late for us to have the remotest chance of changing the Government’s mind, because the deadline for opting in has passed, we are finally having this debate.

I find it impossible not to contrast the Government’s willingness to cancel an entire day’s business in the Chamber to hold a debate that they wanted on bombing Syria with, frankly, their complete stonewalling of the due parliamentary process that allows us to debate how we can and should do more to help some of the millions of innocent victims of the bombs already falling on that country.