Monday, 08 October 2018 17:00



The SNP has called on the UK government to reunite child refugees with their families in the UK.

At the SNP's conference in Glasgow, party delegates have supported a resolution which supports UK Government steps to support a SNP Bill that will; expand the definition of family member as currently only spouses and children under the age of 18 are allowed to join their family in the UK; give refugee children the right to be reunited with their parents as under current reunion rules children cannot sponsor their parents to come to the UK leaving them alone; reintroduce legal aid for refugee family applications.

SNP MP Angus MacNeil’s Private Members’ Bill was introduced in July 2017, it had second reading in March 2018, it is due for committee stage in the autumn.

The Bill has secured cross party support and has been endorsed by a wide range of organisations, including Amnesty International UK, British Red Cross, Refugee Council and Oxfam. 

The resolution passed at SNP conference calls on the UK Government to take steps to ensure that the Bill can be enacted into UK law without impediment, and affirms that refugees are welcome in Scotland, noting the valuable contribution that they make to society.

Commenting, Angus MacNeil MP said:

“The bill quite simply brings the UK into line with most of the rest of Europe to allow child refugees the same rights as adults and provides legal aid which is already provided for in Scotland.

“Some opponents of the bill say that the bill will cause people to send children as anchors ahead of their parents but if that was true then there would be no children coming at the moment and those here for legal aid would all be arriving in Scotland which is not the case given that legal aid makes their already difficult lives easier an it’s the least we can do in this dreadful situation.

“In supporting the resolution before them today, conference delegates have reaffirmed the willingness of the SNP to do all we can in support of those families torn apart by war and persecution.”

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Conference welcomes the decision by the House of Commons to pass the first stage of the Refugee (Family Reunion) Bill, and notes that the Bill has support from across political parties, members of the public and the refugee and international development sectors.

Conference believes that if passed into law this Bill would be one of the most progressive and humane pieces of refugee legislation enacted in the UK, bringing together families torn asunder by forced displacement from their homelands and lives in countries such as Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan.

Conference notes that genuine integration in a new society is significantly hindered when individuals are separated from their families and living in isolation, heartache and fear for their loved ones lives, and further believes this proposal stands in contrast to the current inhumane and ineffectual UK government policies in this area.

Conference reiterates that refugees and migrants are now and will always be welcome in Scotland, and notes the valuable contribution these communities make to our economy, society and culture.

Conference calls on the UK Government to take steps to ensure that the Bill is allowed to continue to progress through the Westminster parliament and be enacted in UK law, and further calls for the full devolution of immigration and asylum competences to the Scottish Parliament.

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