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

The hon. Lady is absolutely correct about that. Sometimes our thinking is limited and we think, “Whoah—3,000 people seems like a lot! If they were all in my front room, what would that all mean?” In a country of 65 million people, this is a drop in the ocean. Given the skills shortages we have and some of the people we could be taking in, it is in our interests to do exactly this. That is especially true at a time when there are more refugees in the world than at any point since the end of the second world war. How can we comprehend their lives, stories and tragedies, and make sense collectively of all those statistics? This is hard to fathom when we start to think of numbers like 3,000.

But today’s Bill is not principally about refugees. It is certainly not about immigration, and in a way it is not even about the war in Syria or human rights abuses in Eritrea. First and foremost, it is about family—something that each and every one of us will recognise. As my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire said, this is about the photograph in the suitcase that the children thought they would want to bring with them if they were refugees. No matter how families argue, fight and disagree with one another, they belong together. They should certainly not be forced to part. This is not an immigration issue; it is a protection issue, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee West said in a debate in Westminster Hall on 22 February.