Refugees (Family Reunion) (No.2) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:50 am on 16th March 2018.

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Photo of Angus MacNeil Angus MacNeil Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment and Rural Affairs), Chair, International Trade Committee 9:50 am, 16th March 2018

Absolutely. This is also a loss for the host countries from which these people have had to flee, often in the most desperate of circumstances.

As well as pop stars and celebrities, it is mostly decent members of the public who have been writing to us, as Mrs Ellman pointed out. They can conceive of the enormity of what refugees, or people fleeing to safety, have had to go through, and in their droves they have been very supportive.

Often as Members of Parliament, we have to consider issues that require us to put ourselves in the shoes of those whose experiences are dissimilar to our own, which puts our ability to empathise to great test. At first glance, the subject of the Bill may seem as though it is going to ask us to put ourselves to similar lengths. How can we, sat here in this old royal palace in the heart of London, begin to know what it is like to be a refugee who has fled the guns of Assad, crossed dangerous seas with their life in the hands of unscrupulous smugglers and then faced a gruelling, adversarial asylum system? How can we know what it is like to be a 17-year-old from Eritrea who has escaped his homeland because he did not want to end up like his older brother—murdered because he did not want to be forcibly conscripted, indefinitely, into the army? I do not know, but I know that I do not want to know and I certainly do not want many other people to know in future.