The Government’s commitment to child refugees is now “a matter of honour and trust” a Catholic cross bench peer has warned.
Following the defeat of an amendment in the House of Commons yesterday, which would have prompted the Government to accept more child refugees across the UK, Lord Alton of Liverpool said: “Apart from the duty we have to rescue children who are at great risk, this is now a matter of honour and a matter of trust.”
The Government narrowly avoided a Commons defeat after a Tory MP introduced an amendment yesterday which would have forced local councils to reveal how many lone child refugees they had the capacity to take.
Heidi Allen MP’s amendment was designed to reintroduce the previous amendment sponsored by Lord Dubs which allowed unaccompanied children to be offered safe refuge in the UK.
Campaigners and politicians have expressed outrage since the Government announced last month that the number of child refugees would be capped at 350 rather than at 3,000 as initially expected.
Following Heidi Allen’s defeat in the Commons yesterday, Lord Alton said: “Promises were entered into by the Government and they should be met. As one of the four sponsors of the Dubbs amendment I am appalled that on a touchstone issue of this kind politicians would go back on their word.
“Interpol say 10,000 unaccompanied children have already gone missing in Europe – their fate unknown. It’s not hard to imagine the sort of exploitation to which they may have been subjected. I have tabled questions a series of questions in the House of Lords asking what priority we are giving this issue.”
Lord Dubs, a former kindertransport refugee said the fight would continue. He told the Guardian: “The councils are clear that they can do more, the anti-slavery commissioner has been clear that this safe and legal route protects children from the deprivations of the traffickers, and the country is clear that children in danger should be protected.
“The campaign isn’t over, our better nature will surely carry the day.”
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