Mover: Alistair Carmichael MP (Spokesperson on Home Affairs).
Summation: Tim Farron MP (Spokesperson on Communities and Local Government).
Conference believes that:
- Refugees who have been forced to flee their homes to escape war and persecution are some of the most vulnerable people in the world; we must do all we can to protect them.
- The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those in need, but now the Conservative Government is turning its back on refugees and failing to live up to our obligations to them.
- Providing refugees with safe and legal routes to sanctuary in the UK is the best way to combat people smuggling and human trafficking, and to prevent people from making dangerous attempts to cross the Channel or the Mediterranean.
- The UK must welcome refugees and treat all seekers of sanctuary with dignity and compassion.
Conference notes with dismay the lack of safe and legal routes to sanctuary in the UK. In particular:
- The Government closed the 'Dubs scheme' for unaccompanied refugee children elsewhere in Europe after resettling just 480 children.
- The Government closed the UK's refugee resettlement schemes in March 2020. In July 2019, it announced a new 'global resettlement scheme' to replace these schemes from 2020, but it has not yet opened the new scheme or committed any funding for refugee resettlement beyond 2021-22.
- The Government has chosen to withdraw the UK from the Dublin System, which enables people applying for asylum in the EU to be reunited with their family members in another member state.
- Unlike every EU country except Denmark, the UK does not allow unaccompanied child refugees to sponsor family members to join them; Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Hamwee has tabled the Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill that would rectify this.
- In December, the Government changed the rules governing asylum applications so the Home Office can declare claims inadmissible if the applicant has passed through or has a connection to a 'safe third country' - even if that country refuses to readmit them; this is a breach of the UK's commitments under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.
- The Government plans to introduce new legislation to further restrict people's rights to claim asylum in the UK.
Conference condemns the Conservative Government's heartless and inhumane response to desperate people attempting to seek sanctuary in the UK.
Conference calls on the Government to provide safe and legal routes to sanctuary in the UK by:
- Immediately restarting refugee resettlement and making a new, fully-funded commitment to resettle 10,000 vulnerable refugees each year.
- Establishing a new Dubs Scheme to resettle a further 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees from elsewhere in Europe over the next ten years.
- Guaranteeing the rights of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Europe to be reunited with family members in the UK.
- Supporting Baroness Hamwee's Bill to expand family reunion rights so that unaccompanied child refugees in the UK can sponsor close family members to join them.
- Providing all unaccompanied asylum-seeking children with support and specialist legal advice.
- Upholding the Refugee Convention, reversing the recent changes to asylum rules that contravene it, and abandoning plans to further restrict the right to seek asylum.
Mover: 7 minutes; summation of motion and movers and summation of any amendments: 4 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes.
For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 6.
The deadline for amendments to this motion is 13.00, Monday 8 March; see page 8. Amendments selected for debate will be published in the Conference Extra and Sunday Conference Daily updates to the Conference Agenda. The deadline for requests for separate votes is 09.30 Saturday 20 March; see page 5.