Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has called for the Home Secretary to increase the number of refugees admitted to the UK for their safety. This comes after the UK government announced that it had already identified 20,000 local authority places for refugees, the number it is supposed to reach by 2020.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr. Carmichael said:
“[The Home Secretary] will be aware that there are many local authorities that have not yet been required to take any refugees and others who are taking in and would take more, does that willingness to take refugees not illustrate, in fact, that the target of 20,000 by 2020 was an unnecessarily modest one and could now be revisited?”
The Home Secretary, the Rt. Hon. Amber Rudd MP responded:
“I am not ready yet to say that the 20,000 is not enough, we have worked incredibly hard to make sure that that 20,000 is welcomed, is going to be well looked after. I think the important thing is to concentrate on making sure that every one of those 20,000 do get the proper support from the communities in which they are housed, and get the important language lessons, so I ask for his patience in making sure that we support those 20,000 over the next few years.”
Commenting afterwards, Mr. Carmichael said:
“I am very pleased that we are taking in 20,000 refugees and ensuring that they have the support in the community that they need. It is however, clear to me that at present supply of local authority places for refugees exceeds the demand that the Home Secretary has created. The UK could take more refugees in, and I am disappointed that the Home Secretary refused to commit to that.
“I met recently with Malcolm Ball, Convenor of Shetland Islands Council, Tavish Scott MSP, and a small number of concerned local residents who wanted to see the isles do their share of the heavy lifting. I have also had similar meetings in Orkney. This is being coordinated across Scotland by CoSLA, the local government umbrella organisation. As far as I know, neither council area yet has any hard commitment to take any refugee families despite a willingness to do so.
“Obviously there would need to be the fullest possible support given to anyone who was settled here and I understand fully the challenges, such as the pressure on public sector housing. There is still more that could be done and that is true of the Northern Isles and I am sure it is true of the rest of the country. Without an increase in the target however that willingness to help will go untapped.”