The Prime Minister has been clear that we will continue to co-operate with our European partners on migration and asylum as we leave the EU. In our negotiations, we will discuss the exact nature of this co-operation as part of our future partnership, but as the Secretary of State said in his statement to the House on
“We are a country with a strong tradition of tolerance and generosity, and if anything, I expect that to grow after we leave, not diminish.”—[Official Report,
Vol. 628, c. 64.]
Will the Minister guarantee that unaccompanied children who are orphaned or have no idea where their parents are will still have the right to be reunited with family members—whether they are brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts or grandparents—who are living in the United Kingdom once we have left the European Union? They are, after all, the most vulnerable children: the most vulnerable to traffickers and to others who seek to abuse them.
The right hon. Gentleman is right: we should absolutely seek to continue our policy of generosity towards those children and ensure that our family reunion policy remains generous. We have reunited, and continue to reunite, many refugees with their immediate families: we have granted more than 23,000 family reunion visas over the past five years. Obviously, I cannot set out the details of what we will agree with the EU, but we intend to agree on significant co-operation in this space to ensure that we can continue to bring families together.
I would call Mr Campbell if he were here, but he is not, so I will not—but we will hear Mr Andrew Slaughter.
The problem with Dublin III, apart from the fact that we do not implement it very well, is that unaccompanied children have to get into the EU, often making perilous journeys, to apply under its provisions. Will the Government consider extending the provisions if we leave the EU, so that wherever people are in the world, they can apply under those terms?
I think that the hon. Gentleman’s question will have been heard. It is not really a question for my Department, but we certainly intend to establish co-operation with the EU on these matters and to continue to have as generous a policy of family reunion as we have had to date.