9th Dec, 2016

Solihull's MPs vote against amendment to resettle 3,000 more refugee children

Solihull Editorial 28th Apr, 2016 Updated: 24th Oct, 2016

SOLIHULL’S MPs have both voted against plans to welcome 3,000 more unaccompanied refugee children into Britain – but say there is good reason, compassion and long-term vision behind the headline-grabbing Government decision.

Julian Knight, MP for Solihull, and Meriden MP Caroline Spelman both voted against an amendment in Parliament on the Government’s Immigration Bill to accept an additional 3,000 child refugees who had already escaped war-torn Syria and made their way into Europe.

MPs voted against the proposals by 294 to 276, with only a few Conservative MPs rebelling against the party and voting for the amendment.

Explaining her decision, Caroline Spelman said: “Solihull has been a dispersal area for unaccompanied minors in the past and from our experience there have been significant challenges.

“It is better to focus on reuniting unaccompanied children with their families.

“In my role as Second Church Estates Commissoner, I have been actively involved in looking into the situation and policies to protect the most vulnerable and I will remain involved in finding a compassionate and practical solution.”

But Solihull MP Julian Knight claimed the UK was already doing more than other European country to alleviate the plight of people fleeing conflict in Syria.

He added: “We are, by a long chalk, the biggest donor and we have committed to take – just last week – 3,000 extra refugees, mostly children from the region.

“The amendment was politically motivated and took no account of the many good things we are doing as a country.

“As for Solihull we are in the vanguard of councils which have resettled families and we lead the way when it comes to looking after unaccompanied asylum seeking children.”

The amendment, which had been tabled by Labour’s Lord Dubs, who himself arrived in Britain on Kindertransport as a child refugee fleeing the Holocaust in the 1930s, has since been defeated in the House of Lords.

This means ministers must now reconsider and work with local authorities to arrange for the relocation of additional children.