Kerr slams Home Office approach to refugee children

Calum Kerr, SNP MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk
Calum Kerr, SNP MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

Borders MP Calum Kerr has challenged UK government ministers over the current refugee crisis by demanding that they do more to help vulnerable children arriving on the shores of Europe.

He told a Commons hearing that lone youngsters faced the very serious risk of falling prey to traffickers or being forced into child labour or prostitution.

Mr Kerr - a member of Westminster’s European Scrutiny Committee - asked immigration minister James Brokenshire: “If the government really wants to show leadership and has compassion at its core, doesn’t it need to look at some of the most vulnerable people at are arriving on EU shores?”

Mr Kerr said more than 13,000 children arrived alone in Italy last year, and that of these, more than 3,700 had then disappeared. The figure, he added, was expected to be higher this year.

The Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP continued: “Why doesn’t the government take its fair share of these vulnerable children?”

The minister told him that the UK met its “profound responsibilities” in a “different way” from other EU member states.

But Mr Kerr responded that he believed the Home Office was “turning a blind eye” when it should be focusing on those who were most vulnerable.

After the hearing, the Borders MP said: “These answers from James Brokenshire weren’t anything like good enough - David Cameron and his Tory colleagues are simply failing to take responsibility for these at-risk children and others.

Mr Kerr - who worked with Save the Children on the figures - said the numbers of lone youngsters disappearing was a real worry.

“I know from the sheer number of my constituents who have contacted me that this is a matter of huge concern to people right here in this part of Scotland.”