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Carmichael: Government must support refugee reunification

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael.

Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, has called on the Prime Minister to support a Parliamentary Bill on Refugee Family Reunification, which is to be debated on Friday, March 16.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday this week, Mr. Carmichael endorsed Angus MacNeil’s Bill and called on the Prime Minister to do the same.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr. Carmichael said: “On Friday of next week the House will debate the Private Members Bill on Refugee Family Reunification being brought forward by the Hon. Gentleman from Na h-Eileanan an Iar. It is a very simple bill, which will allow families that have been torn apart by conflict to rebuild their lives here, together. It is supported by a coalition of organisations including the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and the Refugee Council. Will the Government add their support to this very important bill?”

In response, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, said: “Can I say to the Rt. Hon. Gentleman that, of course, we do have, I believe, in this country a good record of ensuring that we are providing places for refugees that we are helping those who are particularly most vulnerable, but I understand, as he will know, the points being made, in relation to this bill and we recognise the concern around family reunification. There are rules in existence around family reunification, and we will look carefully at this.”

Speaking after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael said: “The Bill is a good one, and it will ensure that families who have been broken up by war, and who have come to the UK seeking sanctuary, can rebuild their lives. At the moment, the Government’s approach is far too restrictive and sees many families needlessly, and cruelly separated.

“The Prime Minister is right that historically we have a good record as a country in helping those less fortunate than ourselves. In recent years it has been less impressive. That history, however, must not be used as an excuse for doing no more to help. If the Bill is passed it will be a small step, which will benefit hundreds of refugee families.

“I hope the Prime Minister does carefully consider this issue, as she committed to doing, and agrees with me, that this bill is a positive step forward in helping some of the most vulnerable people rebuild their lives in the UK.”

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