The proposed Asylum (Unaccompanied Children Displaced by Conflict) Bill
Under the Ten Minute Rule Bill, a Member of Parliament may make a speech for up to ten minutes to propose a new Bill to Parliament.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron MP Proposed a new Bill entitled Asylum (Unaccompanied Children Displaced by Conflict) on 8 December 2015. He called on the Prime Minister David Cameron to re-settle 3,000 children displaced by conflict, the number being “just five children per parliamentary constituency.”
To summarise, the Bill is to ‘make provision about the award of asylum-seeker status in the United Kingdom to certain unaccompanied children from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea displaced by conflict and present within the European Union; and for connected purposes.’ Under Parliamentary law, a proposed Bill is read by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords before getting Royal Assent if approved. The Bill was first read on 8 December 2015 in the Commons and is expected to have its second reading on 11 March 2016. As the Bill is a private member’s Bill, there is no draft legislation for the public to view until the second reading of the proposed Bill.
Mr Farron proposed the new bill in reaction to the current and increasing refugee crisis and the number of children who simply disappear once they arrive in Europe. In 2014 it was estimated that up to 4,000 refugee children disappeared since arriving in Italy from conflict zones, a figure which this new Bill hopes to avoid for the future. It is hoped that the enactment of this Bill will help to keep children safe and away from potential exploitation.
Mr Farron hopes, with the assent of this Bill, that the United Kingdom will steer the way for other countries in the European Union to follow. When proposing the Bill, Mr Farron said “if the UK were to initiate this programme, other EU countries would follow, and many thousands of children would reach the safety and security they so desperately deserve. Given the opportunity, British people have shown again and again throughout history our generosity of spirit, especially in response to refugees. There is no question but that this generosity of spirit still exists in our country today; it just needs our Government to do the right thing, and facilitate it for the 21st century.”
We await the second reading of the Bill to better measure Parliament’s reaction to the proposal.