Refugees: UK Government Policy

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:56 pm on 10th February 2016.

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Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately Conservative, Faversham and Mid Kent 4:56 pm, 10th February 2016

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Main. I congratulate Richard Arkless on securing the debate. I did not agree with all of what he said, but he made some important points about our moral obligation and how we should raise our sights as high as we can when considering what we can do about the humanitarian crisis that is upon us. I had my airtime on this topic a couple of weeks ago, so I will be brief.

My perspective is that one cannot help but feel compassion when one sees the pictures of refugees, wherever they are in Europe, including Calais. That includes the pictures of Alan Kurdi on the beach last year and of the 70,000 or so refugees massed on the Turkish border right now. One feels that compassion, but we must approach the situation with our heads as well as our hearts and make sure we do the right thing as well as being humane. I visited a refugee camp in Turkey last year, having visited the camp in Calais, which was so much worse than what I saw in the camp in Turkey. I have spoken to several local councils to hear how they are getting on with the resettlement of refugees under the Government’s programme and how well the new arrivals who have already come to the UK are getting on.