Changes in Us Immigration Policy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:36 pm on 30th January 2017.

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Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Minister of State 8:36 pm, 30th January 2017

I fully appreciate what the hon. Lady says. Indeed, we have debated such issues on many occasions. I have been in the House for nearly 25 years, and I think I am well known as someone who has defended Muslims at home and abroad throughout that period. To turn on a sixpence, when I was Minister of State, Department for International Development, I had to focus more than £1 billion from the growing DFID budget on Syrian refugees; perhaps my one pleasure amid the challenges that we faced was being able to say that that was 25 times more than was provided by the French.

Let me concentrate on what the Government had to do in response to the announcement of the Executive order. It had a serious effect, and there were serious consequences for some British citizens. It is the Government’s duty to protect the interests of British citizens and, where we are able to do so, make sure that we get things changed so that they are not detrimentally affected. That is what we decided we primarily had to do, why the Foreign Secretary spoke to the US Administration, and why my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary spoke to General Kelly, the new Secretary of Homeland Security to seek clarification.

One of the points that I ask the House to understand is that we did not appreciate right from the start all the implications of the Executive order. It was announced as the Prime Minister left Washington to fly overnight to Turkey, and during the next day it was full steam ahead in Turkey, so I think the House ought to row back from the personal attacks on the Prime Minister.

Let me make it clear what has resulted from those contacts: we have successfully protected British citizens. It would have been ill advised to be diplomatically offensive in a way that would have reinforced any detriment to British citizens. Instead, we have achieved something.