Calais: Refugees - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:39 pm on 2nd November 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Butler-Sloss Baroness Butler-Sloss Crossbench 3:39 pm, 2nd November 2017

My Lords, I declare my interests, which are registered. I start by congratulating the Government on bringing a considerable number of children to this country. That is admirable, but the Government have a blind spot about Calais and Dunkirk. Last July, the former MP Fiona Mactaggart and I wrote and published a report, Nobody Deserves to Live This Way!, as a result of our visit to Calais in May and a great deal of evidence presented to us in two months. We set out there the parlous state of children in Calais and Dunkirk. What is so sad is that it has not improved, and the brutality of the police is as bad now as it was then. That is set out in our report and in other reports, including a number of French reports, in which French humanitarian organisations are said to be absolutely horrified. As has already been referred to by other noble Lords, the French have put in temporary accommodation for 20 children, but there are 200 in Calais, as I understand it, and some in Dunkirk. Those are unaccompanied children needing help. Many of them have the right to come to this country under Dublin III—the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, has made that point already, but it needs to be made again. For this reason, they are in Calais; they are in Dunkirk. The registration place is 100 km away. How does one expect a 15 or 16 year-old unaccompanied minor to travel 100 km to get registered? This is truly shocking.

There is the danger of exploitation, but I do not talk only about the danger. As someone involved in the issues of modern slavery and human trafficking, I know that many of those children have already been exploited, but they are in danger of being exploited again. What worries me is that so many of them have the right to be here, mainly under Dublin III but many under the wonderful Dubs amendment that, just for a moment, we thought would work; however, only 200 children have come. The Government have a duty at least to deal with Dublin III and to cast a sympathetic eye on the Dubs children. Nothing is being done, and I ask the Minister why not.