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EU: Unaccompanied Migrant Children (EUC Report) - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:38 pm on 1st November 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department 8:38 pm, 1st November 2016

My Lords, I thank the European Union Committee for producing its report on unaccompanied migrant children in the EU, and thank all noble Lords who have spoken so powerfully in this debate.

The Government recognise the plight of unaccompanied migrant children in Europe and we are addressing this on a number of fronts. We take our commitments towards these unaccompanied migrant children extremely seriously. We have already made significant progress in speeding up the transfer of children who already have close family members in the UK. The Government began work on this under the Immigration Act immediately after the Bill gained Royal Assent. Since Royal Assent and before 1 October, we have transferred more than 50 children—commonly known as the “Dubs children”—under the criteria of the Immigration Act. Since 10 October we have transferred more than 300 children from Calais, including more than 60 girls.

I must make it clear, and I am sure noble Lords know, that we need the permission of sovereign member states to operate on their territory and we need to abide by their laws. We are focusing on France, Greece and Italy but we can operate only in ways agreed with those member states. It is important to make that clear at this point.

We are also working with local authorities to ensure that children are fully supported on arrival in the UK, and we are making progress on the national transfer scheme, including a commitment to increase funding. We encourage more local authorities to come forward. At this point, I pay tribute to the local authorities which have come forward. People have mentioned local authorities which have been so good, such as Hammersmith and Ealing—what was the other one?