The Refugee Family Reunion Bill passed another stage in its progression through the UK Parliament with its second reading in the House of Commons on 16 March 2018.
Introduced as a Private Members Bill by the SNP’s Angus MacNeil back in July 2017, the proposed legislation hopes to improve the UK’s laws on the rights of refugees.
- Child refugees would have the right to sponsor their close family to come to the UK so they can rebuild their lives here.
- Young People who have turned 18 and elderly parents would also be able to live in safety with their parents here.
- Refugees who have lost everything could access legal aid to help them navigate the complicated process of being reunited with their families
The [UK] government has not given its backing to Mr MacNeil’s private member’s bill but it passed its second reading after Labour, Lib Dem and some Tory MPs spoke in favour of it, as well as the SNP … Ministers say it could encourage people to attempt the risky journey to the UK.
The bill passed its second reading by 129 votes to 42. MacNeil said:
“It’s clear that this issue isn’t about party politics, it’s about doing the right thing. It was pretty obvious to all of us that families belong together and that children belong with their parents. I hope that ministers come to the same compassionate conclusion.”
The need for safe passage and less risky journeys into Europe was emphasised the next morning with the tragic news that a small boat capsized while trying to cross from Turkey to the Greek island of Agathonisi.
The Greek coastguard say that at least 15 migrants, including five children, have died.
Nearly 4,000 migrants have travelled by sea to the Greek islands so far this year.