Scotland

Keith Vaz: Scotland 'leading the way' in resettling refugees

Syrian families have been resettled in the UK, including on the Isle of Bute Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Scotland took in 610 Syrian refugees between October 2015 and March this year

Scotland is "leading the way" in efforts to resettle refugees fleeing the war in Syria, according to the chairman of a Commons committee.

However, Keith Vaz - who chairs the influential Home Affairs select committee - said there was a danger of a "two tier system" among UK councils.

His comments followed the publication of a report that showed 38% of Syrian refugees were resettled in Scotland.

The UK government has pledged to take in 20,000 refugees by 2020.

Figures, first released in May, revealed that 610 of the 1,622 refugees arriving in the UK between October 2015 and March 2016 were settled by Scottish councils.

All but seven of Scotland's 32 local authorities took in refugees under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme.

The Scottish government has said Scottish local authorities would provide homes for at least 2,000 Syrians.

Renfrewshire took the most refugees, resettling 68 people and came third in a list of councils across the UK.

Argyll and Bute took in 58 people, while Edinburgh and Glasgow resettled 53 and 51 respectively.

Across the UK, Coventry took in 105 people, while Nottingham took 81 refugees.

At the time of the survey only East Dunbartonshire, Falkirk, Highland, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, South Ayrshire and Western Isles councils had taken no refugees under the resettlement scheme.

However, since then eight people have been resettled in the Western Isles while South Ayrshire has taken in seven.

Mr Vaz told Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "The commitment made by David Cameron last year that Britain would take 20,000 refugees from Syria was extremely welcome, but that depends on local authorities being able to and being willing to take a very limited number of Syrian refugee families.

"In this respect, local authorities in Scotland like Glasgow and Edinburgh have led the way for the rest of the United Kingdom.

"They've taken their fair share, but there are whole swathes of the rest of the United Kingdom where no Syrian refugees have been resettled and that is a cause for worry because we're never going to meet that target unless everyone takes their fair share."

Image copyright HoC
Image caption Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz said Scotland was leading the way on refugees

SNP immigration spokesperson Stuart McDonald MP, who also sits on the committee, said firm action was needed.

He said: "We now need a commitment from our new prime minister that the government will step up - we have already seen Theresa May scrap the position of minister for refugees when we need a concerted effort to improve how the UK is dealing with, and continues to deal with the refugee crisis."

A Home Office spokeswoman said the UK government was "on track" to deliver on its pledge to resettle 20,000 people by the end of the parliament.

She added: "We have also made clear our commitment to bringing very vulnerable children from Europe.

"At the same time we continue to work tirelessly to maintain the security of our border, intercepting attempts to enter the UK illegally and targeting the callous gangs that profit from people smuggling."

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