The Government provide a safe and legal route for bringing families together through our existing family reunion policy. These provisions are consistent with our obligation to respect family life under article 8 of the European convention on human rights. We are listening to calls to extend this policy and will continue discussions with stakeholders.
Ministers will recall that last July the other House passed the Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill overwhelmingly but that it was not introduced here because of lack of parliamentary time. Since parliamentary time no longer appears so scarce, will the Minister introduce it here to help reunite families, many of whom are divided by some very rigid and inflexible rules?
Is my right hon. Friend as concerned as I am that in designing a refugee family reunion policy we do not create incentives that encourage even more people to leave their homes and undertake an extremely dangerous journey in the hope they will bring the rest of their relatives to our country at a later date?
My hon. Friend rightly raises the Government’s concern that allowing children to sponsor close family members might create incentives for more children to be encouraged or even forced to leave their families and risk a hazardous journey to the UK in order to sponsor relatives at a later date. I am sure he agrees that we absolutely want to avoid that because it could play into the hands of criminal gangs already exploiting vulnerable people.