Last Friday was a day when MPs debate and vote on Private Members Bills. Each year, 20 MPs are picked out of a hat to introduce a Bill of their choice – a Private Members Bill. These Bills are debated on some Fridays. If even one MP opposes them, they need 100 MPs to vote for them to progress to the next stage.
I usually try to spend Fridays in High Peak to see the many people and organisations who ask to meet with me, but last week I was informed that numbers were tight for voting for a Private Members Bills that is very important to me – the Refugees Family Reunion Bill.
I was pleased that hundreds of constituents wrote to ask me to support the Bill and make sure it passed this crucial stage. It is useful to hear from constituents about issues being debated in Parliament.
I always have too many calls on my time and often have to decide between which debates and events to attend. Knowing that so many people in High Peak care about a Bill makes it easier to make those decisions.
The Refugees Family Reunion Bill enables the parents and child siblings of an unaccompanied child refugee who has reached the UK to join them. Child refugees have gone through terrible conditions in both their own country and on their journey to the UK. Our own asylum system is incredibly tough and those who are accepted are undoubtedly refugees, suffering from the trauma of their experience.
Children need the support of their parents and family to give them the best chance of recovering from such ordeals, and to become a happy and fulfilled member of society.
As a mum myself, all my instincts say that parents and children should be together wherever possible, but it also makes sense from a government point of view. Without parents in the UK, child refugees have to be cared for by the state, often in foster care or a children’s home. It is very resource intensive to care for a child suffering from trauma who may not speak good English.
So, both from a family point of view and from looking at financial cost, I do not understand those Conservative MPs who tried to block this Bill on Friday and I was delighted to be one of the 100+ MPs who were in Parliament to support it.
Johnny, a Year 10 student from Glossopdale who was doing work experience with me that week was also very pleased at the chance to see around Parliament and to watch the debate.
It’s always good to be able to combine the wishes and needs of constituents with what I do in Parliament, and I was pleased to be able to do so last week. My apologies and thanks to those High Peak groups I was due to meet on Friday for their understanding, my office is working hard to re-arrange my visit.