Yesterday, York Central MP, Rachael Maskell, asked the Prime Minister to reconsider his decision to only allow 20,000 Syrian refugees into the UK over five years. Speaking after the Prime Minister’s Statement in the House of Commons, Ms Maskell, who has received letters and emails from constituents offering help including welcoming a family into their homes, told the Prime Minster the help he was offering only amounted to six refugees being welcomed into each constituency every year.
Speaking afterwards, Rachael said:
“The United Nations is warning us we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis that is getting worse. The pictures we have seen on our television screens do not begin to show us the extent of this humanitarian crisis. I am incensed that Turkey is hosting over one and a half million refugees and our government says we will open our borders to no more than six men, women and children a year in each constituency. That’s probably not even two families for every MP. It does not even begin to address the crisis.
“I have been moved by the compassion shown by York people. Every day I receive more and more emails and letters from ordinary people, here in York, reacting to the crisis, wanting to do more, asking what they can do to help, even offering rooms in their own homes. They don’t want to turn their backs on their neighbours and let them continue to suffer or put their own and their children’s lives in more danger. They want the government to help more of these desperate frightened men, women and children find sanctuary in our country.”
This is how Hansard reported the exchange:
Rachael Maskell (York Central) (Lab/Co-op): What criteria has the Prime Minister used to arrive at a figure of just six refugees per constituency per year? In the light of the compassionate acts of constituents, will he review that figure?
The Prime Minister: I believe that 20,000 Syrian refugees is a generous and correct figure for Britain. What we should do now is get on with it and move as rapidly as we can to process those people. It takes time because we have to work with the UNHCR to go through those in the camps and find suitable people to come here. It also takes time to work with local councils. I do not want to make a pledge that we then cannot deliver properly on the ground, and I believe that this 20,000 pledge can be delivered properly.