Withdrawal Agreement: Lord Dubs' Amendment (Child Refugees)

Thank you for contacting me about the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Act and the Dubs Amendment on child refugees.

I have been assured that the Government’s policy has not changed and it was supportive of the purpose of the Dubs amendment.

The UK is one of the leading powers in providing aid and assistance to refugees throughout the world. Indeed, the UK received 15 per cent of all asylum claims from unaccompanied children in 2018 and had the third-highest intake of claims in the EU.

I share the concern about child refugees but it is vital in my view that legislation and international negotiations have clear and precisely defined objectives. The focus of the legislation was on implementing the deal as agreed with the EU so that the Withdrawal Agreement could have effect in UK law. I did not believe that it was right to add substantial new amendments. 

The EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Act was about implementing the Withdrawal Agreement and I did not believe that it was the right place to legislate on this issue. A further important consideration was that removing the statutory requirement set out in the amendment restores the traditional division between the Government and Parliament in international negotiations.

Moreover, a statutory obligation to negotiate with the EU on family reunification does not necessarily lead to an agreement. The Home Secretary has already written to the European Commission to commence negotiations on a future agreement and the Government has laid statements before Parliament on its policy.

The Act ensured that the UK left the EU on 31 January in an orderly way. It protects citizens’ rights, honours our financial obligations to the EU and ensures that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in any circumstance. I fully support it.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Craig Whittaker MP

March 2020