Last week a number of constituents wrote to me to ask if I would show my support for World Refugee Day by attending a Backbench Business Debate led by Angus MacNeil MP on refugee family reunion in the Commons on Thursday 20 June.
I regret to inform them that I was unable to attend the debate as I was welcoming the Taiwanese Ambassador to Cornwall on Thursday and as such was not in Westminster.
However, I fully recognise that it is time for us to have a grown up and mature debate about our current arrangements on enabling refugees to reunite in the UK.
Angus MacNeil MP is hoping to secure legal changes to enable real and meaningful changes for refugees through his Refugees (Family Reunion) Private Members Bill. I have recently accepted an invitation from Angus to sit on the bill committee to scrutinise the legislation to ensure it is fit for purpose. As such I will be very much involved in examining this issue closely in due course. I will be sure to speak up for constituents when the committee meets.
Britain has a proud history and tradition of giving sanctuary to those who are fleeing conflict and persecution. The Syrian refugee resettlement programme in particular has proved to be a great success for the refugees who have come here and for the communities who have received them, and I welcome the government's announcement this week that it is extending the programme to allow vulnerable refugees from other parts of the world to find sanctuary here.
As we leave the EU, we need to build a new immigration system that not only works for our businesses but also is humane and compassionate to those who are most vulnerable and in need of sanctuary.