Roger Roberts calls for Parliamentary debate on refugee crisis

So, the Westminster Parliament resumes on Monday after its Summer recess. The Commons debates the EU Referendum Bill, the Lords the Energy Bill. With a growing humanitarian crisis on our doorstep, though, can it really be business as usual?

Liberal Democrat peer and passionate advocate for the fair treatment of those who seek sanctuary Roger Roberts thinks not. He wants the current agenda to be postponed in favour of debates in both Houses on the crisis. He said on Facebook:

Next Monday Parliament reconvenes. I plan to have discussions today to treat Monday as if it was for the recall of Parliament to have an emergency debate on the Refugee crisis. With many thousands of people involved in what appears to be one of the major humanitarian crises of our time.I would welcome as much support (facebook – messages to M.P.s and Peers etc) as possible.

I think it would be good to have Parliaments in Scotland and Wales debate the issue too, especially if they are able to say that they are happy to take refugees in their areas.

Even the Labour Party is now saying that we should be doing more to help these people and Yvette Cooper has even put a number, 10,000, on it. They have taken their time but we should be prepared to work with them if they are prepared to take a more humanitarian position. This is something that needs a common approach to combat the domination of the UKIP/Tory/right wing media view in the media.

If you support Roger’s call for Parliament to debate the issue, do contact your MP or any peers you know.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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19 Comments

  • Jayne mansfield 2nd Sep '15 - 11:11am

    I am pessimistic. Politicians remain politicians because they are good at politics, and I worry that they will once more show themselves to have feet of clay.

    I am unimpressed by Yvette Cooper putting a number on the number of refugees we should admit. The view that most accords with my own as expressed on here,mocked from David Miliband in today’ Guardian.

    Interstingly, he asks that we do not use the word crisis, something that I have been guilty of and now realise that I wrong to do so.

  • Jayne mansfield 2nd Sep '15 - 11:14am

    I don,t know where the word ‘ mocked’ came from!

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 2nd Sep '15 - 11:23am

    I thought it was more the term “migrant” he was objecting to, Jayne:

    “It is a misnamed crisis, and it seems not misnamed by accident. It’s been too convenient to misname it as a migrant crisis, because it suggests these people are voluntarily fleeing, whereas in fact – if you’ve been barrel-bombed out of your home three times, life and limb demand that you flee,” he said. “It’s not about being politically incorrect in using the term migrant. It’s simply incorrect.”

  • Jayne mansfield 2nd Sep '15 - 11:45am

    Yes Caron, you are correct. My mistake. I just felt so happy that someone was saying what I thought And I misinterpreted it..
    I also felt sad that the words were coming from someone who was no longer a politician, but I hope his view still carries weight.

    Phew, I can start using the word ,crisis’ again.

  • I thought Yvette made a very good point when she said that if each council took just ten people, we could admit 10,000 easily and (my implication) this would in no way result in the country being ‘swamped’. It’s actually very refreshing to hear a politician saying we should give a home to refugees and in the tens of thousands.

  • David Evershed 2nd Sep '15 - 12:38pm

    Given the many hundreds of millions of people in Africa and the Middle East who would prefer to live and work in the EU than in their own countries, I think we should reserve asylum places for those who are genuinely being persecuted for their religion, politics or race.

    Having an open door policy to anyone from a badly run country to come to the EU is not realistic. Consequemtly it is necessary to distinguish between asylum seekers and economic migrants.

  • Ben Midgley 2nd Sep '15 - 12:42pm

    I’d like to see calls for a co-ordinated European refugee portal being established on-line, and on the ground where safe havens can be safeguarded, applications by embassies processed, relief supplies, and safe forward passage guaranteed. The indifference to the distressing plight of ordinary people’s lives borders on scandalous, and would be so if it were not for the independent efforts being made by the some to compensate for the inactivity of the many, including the presently paralysed British government.

  • Jayne mansfield 2nd Sep '15 - 2:05pm

    @ David Evershed,
    Who is suggesting that the millions who live in badly run countries and would prefer to live here should be allowed to do so?

    We are talking about people who are fleeing for their lives. Those assessed as not being qualified for refugee status wil not be allowed to stay.

    Perhaps you should go and spend some time amongst the poor of badly run nations. In my experience, there is no great urge to leave the life that they know, the familiarity of friends and family, their local culture, All they want is enough to live a more dignified life., one where their children are not dying at birth or suffering fromGrade 4 malnutrition..You would be surprised at the modesty of their wish list and how little it would take to provide it. They are not all clamouring to come to the EU. They cannot even comprehend a life outside of their known environment nor would they want one.

  • Ben Midgley. There is indifference to the poor, unemployed, homeless, sick and disabled of this country. After being anaesthetised to their own citizens’ plight by the last two governments why do you think people would care?

  • Eddie Sammon 2nd Sep '15 - 2:58pm

    We might have to do something “old fashioned” and say women, children, elderly and disabled first.

    We really need to target the people at the top of these terrorist organisations. We know some of the male terrorists are conscripts, so I don’t think killing a load of foot soldiers is going to do must good. Cutting off funding would also be good.

    I dont know a lot, but I would be interested to know what people think.

  • Ben Midgley 2nd Sep '15 - 3:26pm

    Hi Anne?

    Well firstly it’s not either/or, but both/and – we are talking about refugees here, not our own welfare problems, but I do think if you want to widen the subject we have to agree there is little equivalence between domestic and refugee plights. Here people have a welfare system, rule of law, functional governance (yes far from perfect, but still world class), and do not have post traumatic stress disorders and a litany of personal tragedies the like of which Jayne Mansfield describes. In truth, many of the least privileged of our own citizens are often the first to show compassion towards those in need as the distress of want is more real and personal to them than those for whom these things are essentially alien experiences. What do you think?

    Yes Eddie, some sort of prioritisation is of course needed, this being the real World while continuing to seek resolution to the root conflicts that have brought these agonies about.

  • Jayne mansfield 2nd Sep '15 - 3:58pm

    @ Anne,
    You are wrong. People do care. Look at the money that still pours into charities, the money raised by Red Nose Day etc,. Much of it coming from people with the least to give..

    As Ben says, it is not either or. I find that it is exactly the same people who care about the tragedy that is unfolding before our eyes as care about the plight of people in this country.

    What we have is a government that does not care. Cameron’ s leadership on this can be summed up by a strategy of ignore the problem and it will go away.

    There Are a lot of attempts to distract attention from the problem . Those people who say that one needs to sort out the problems in their own country etc., Well there is no instant solution to that and Again it is not a case of either or. The people who are risking their lives fleeing, and dying in the process are a problem of the now. That is the immediate crisis.

  • Ben Midgley 2nd Sep '15 - 3:59pm

    Also Anne, for the reasons you describe, we need to get a change of government.

  • Ben Midgley 2nd Sep '15 - 4:27pm

    This crisis, and that’s what it is, a situation that has been developing for years, now coming to a head, is going to prove definitive on so many levels and for such a long time. For ourselves, for Europe, for global relations and of course for the individuals involved, and that is why I see it, among other things, as a Liberal issue, because it is about the destiny of the individual against the backdrop of larger bodies, nations, religions, classes etc. we must of all people seek to work for individual rights as the only real, modern, humane way to act in the 21st C.

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Sep '15 - 8:21pm

    Please remember previous crises, such as the “Vietnamese boat people” although often from the ethnic Chinese minority in North Vietnam Housing is important, but language is also important. Sporeading people evenly around the country has been tried before, but usually leads to secondary migrations within the UK as people seek mutual support.

  • @Richard Underhill – re: secondary migrations

    I suspect this is one of the big reasons the UK government is being overtly cautious over the taking of migrants, given the answers to media straw poll interviews of migrants preferred destination and their widespread use of English, we can expect a secondary migration of migrants within the EU as they move to the UK… This is additional to the problems that will arise once it becomes widely known (via both formal media and social media channels) that the UK will take migrants who manage to get to the EU…

  • Richard Underhill 4th Sep '15 - 6:52pm

    Roland 2nd Sep ’15 – 9:14pm The same would apply if the democracies of western Europe were treated as a single area.
    If an asylum seeker is recognised as a refugee under the UN Convention in one country and then moves to another his/her status as a recognised refugee can be rescinded by the country which granted it and not accepted by the country to which he/she has moved. One good reason why that would happen is that the two applications that he/she has made were made were decided on different dates and therefore the circumstances in the country in which he/she claims to fear persecution may have changed.
    For instance Iraq was invaded by military coalitions led by George Bush senior and later by his son George W Bush.

  • Richard Underhill 4th Sep '15 - 6:56pm

    There is a widespread belief that nothing happens when Parliament goes into recess, so journalists go on holiday, etc.
    Now that they are back the recall that was urgently needed will not happen. Obviously the builders need the decaying building, but could they have met at County Hall, or even outside London?

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