What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Afghan relocations and assistance policy.
To date, over 9,500 eligible individuals have already safely relocated to the UK under the Afghan relocations and assistance policy; we think we have about the same to go in terms of the number of people eligible. Flights are leaving, principally from Islamabad, every fortnight, but obviously partners in the region have a say over what they accept as a flow rate. I was in Islamabad three weeks ago to discuss that with the Pakistan Government. I am delighted to say that they have announced a further phase to allow nations like the UK to evacuate those who have popped up in Pakistan. We will be getting on with that now.
With your forbearance, Mr Speaker, I pay tribute to all those who served in the Falkland Islands 40 years ago.
I turn to the Minister’s response. A former member of the unit I helped to establish has now been waiting nine months for his ARAP application to be processed. He is in hiding, terrified that he is going to be kidnapped and murdered by the Taliban—all because he stepped forward to serve when we asked him to. Will the Minister give an undertaking to look at the detail of this particular individual’s case? Can he say what more is being done to clear the backlog of applications?
The hon. Gentleman is a phenomenal campaigner for those who served alongside the UK armed forces; in fact, I think I probably sign dozens of letters a week responding to his various inquiries. I am surprised that I have not already corresponded with him on this particular case if he has raised it with me, but perhaps we can talk afterwards to ensure nothing has fallen through the cracks.
Family members of Afghan interpreters in my constituency who came to the UK under the ARAP scheme are among the 12,000 Afghans stranded in bridging hotels. That is shameful. How on earth can we trust the Government to deliver on the new pathways announced today if they have accommodated only a third of those who fled the Taliban over the last year?
The hon. Lady’s question is well intended. We want the same thing: we want to help. It is frustrating, however. The Government were criticised for outsourcing the Ukraine refugee scheme to members of the public, yet the reality is that if the Government have to be responsible for it in its entirety, people end up being stuck in hotels until councils are willing to take people out of those hotels. It is appalling that Afghan refugees are still stuck in hotels nine months later. I am desperate that councils around the UK step up and help us to accommodate the people who served our country with such amazing bravery and selflessness, and who are stuck in hotels because councils cannot accommodate them.
As chairman of the British Council all-party parliamentary group, I have been raising the plight of 170 British Council contractors who remain in Afghanistan in fear of their lives, 85 of whom have been deemed by the Government to be at very high risk. Given the written ministerial statement today, what assurances can the Minister give that the latter group in particular will be prioritised? They are not the only ones in fear for their lives in Afghanistan—there are many more. If he cannot give that assurance, given the urgency of the situation, will he knock on whatever door is required in Government and press upon that individual the need for action?
My hon. Friend has already seconded me on a number of occasions to speak to colleagues around Government on his behalf, as part of his campaigning on behalf of those who worked for the British Council. He knows, I think, that both the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Home Office are seized of the need to do the right thing by them. The Afghan citizens resettlement scheme is clearly the opportunity. In Islamabad three weeks ago, while of course my focus was ARAP, I was able to also reassure myself—I hope he will be encouraged to hear this—that all is in place to begin bringing people out under ACRS through that route as well.