I was disappointed that the Liberal-Democrat candidate didn't do her homework before putting pen to paper in a recent edition of the Henley Standard. The Government is accused of doing a u-turn on a promise to bring 3,000 refugee children to the UK. It has done nothing of the sort. First, the idea that, under what has come to be called the Dubs Amendment, 3,000 children were going to be brought to the UK was defeated in Parliament and an alternative agreed which did not mention any arbitrary numbers. So, the promise was not to bring a specified number of individuals to the UK but it required the Government to consult Local Authorities on how many additional children they could manage. This we have done.
I am sure you can imagine that refugee children coming to a foreign country have complex emotional and often physical needs. It is right that the Dubs Amendment requires the Government to ask Local authorities how many more children they could safely accept.
Second, it is implied that the Dubs Amendment is the only means by which unaccompanied children can be brought to the UK. It is not. In 2016 we relocated almost as many children from within Europe to the UK as the entire EU's relocation scheme.
Each year 3,000 children arrive in the UK and claim asylum and we are taking approximately 2,000 – 3,000 each year through various resettlement schemes. All of these children need support and protection. It is right that we prioritise our efforts on those children caught up in the conflict in Syria and the surrounding area - rather than in safe areas of Europe - so that they can come to the UK safely and directly and with their families.
I am committed to supporting, protecting and caring for the most vulnerable asylum-seeking and refugee children. By the end of this Parliament, we will have resettled over 20,000 vulnerable Syrian nationals and a further 3,000 of the most vulnerable children and their families from the Middle East and North Africa and I am pleased that our resettlement programme is one of the biggest in Europe.