Like many others, I’ve been shocked by pictures of women and children fleeing the brutality of Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Several constituents have contacted me with offers of help and questions about why our government is being so slow.
I’ve listened to ministers claiming that Britain has taken more refugees than any other country but that isn’t true. Michael Gove has finally given Parliament some details of his community sponsorship proposals which are welcome .
It is obvious ministers hope to rely on commercial accommodation like hotels, private landlords and B&Bs but that market is already heavily used. The numbers of ordinary people offering a spare room suggests the British public may have a better plan than just another government accommodation scheme.
When it comes to refugees, I hope ministers manage a better job of vetting landlords than they’ve done with exempt accommodation hostels.
They are the places, in the Birmingham Mail campaign, which make lots of money for a few but cause misery and mayhem for residents and neighbours alike.
More than 80 years ago, without any of the benefits of modern technology, we managed to deal with large numbers of our own children who were sent to safety, with cardboard name tags, amid the devastation of the blitz. Equally, around 10,000 Jewish children were saved, under the Kindertransport scheme, without 50-page forms or anxiety about infiltration by Nazi spies.
It’s highly unlikely that Putin has embedded enemy agents among those poor souls we’re seeing on our televisions. The spies are probably those people already identified by our security services who frequent the private dining and social clubs of Mayfair.
I welcome the proposals the government is now bringing forward but they could proceed at a faster pace. The British people can be very generous. What we need from government is simplified and practical activity to match that generosity.
We don’t need exaggerated claims. That kind of propaganda should be left to Putin and those like him.
We should concentrate on welcoming Ukrainian refugees with open hearts, while making sure we act against those people laundering dirty Russian money across London.