Making our policy on Asylum and Refugees excellent.

After explaining our position on the policy motion on Migration and Asylum, LD4SOS Council member Suzanne Fletcher moved an amendment to the policy motion we had worked hard on, submitted on our behalf by local parties in Stockton; Wigan, Leigh & Makerfield; and Bromsgrove.

You can see the whole debate here https://youtu.be/tgScArR958M?t=6768 and Suzanne speaking here https://youtu.be/tgScArR958M?t=7455

She spoke of our deep ANGER about how government treats ALL migrants, and the terrible and inhumane way that those asylum seekers who seek sanctuary in the UK are treated. Suzanne then went on to explain some of the main points of our amendment, some of which were an expansion of what was already in the policy paper, and some additions.

Our amendments include:

Workable solutions to real social, infrastructure and financial problems and place blame on government indifference and underfunding, NOT those who are here from elsewhere for whatever reason.

We shouldn’t be using teachers, health professionals, landlords and banks in civil society as border guards.

Detention for immigration purposes is bad enough for many reasons, not least that it is indefinite and we welcome the paper affirming our policy having a time limit of 28 days as a maximum. but our amendments go further and make it explicit that detention is NOT AS IT IS NOW, FIRST RESORT, BUT absolutely a last resort, no vulnerable people should be detained at all. Pregnant women, those with mental health problems, those who have been subject to torture should NEVER be detained for immigration purposes, and nobody AT ALL for more than 72hours without judicial oversight. There must be community alternatives to detention with casework. This is about stopping lives being wasted, not just wasting money better spent.

We are reaffirming our unqualified commitment to principle of no reformer which prohibits the UK from sending anyone to any place where their life or freedom would be at risk

Culture of disbelief must END. There are Christians, people of other faiths, people of no faith, fleeing for their life. There are those who have converted to Christianity since coming here. There are LGBT + people. ALL these are so often not believed and have impossible levels of proof to give.

We need to Review and arbitrate decisions before reaching appeal.

Over 40% of appeals taken are won, what does that say about bad decision making. Costs of appeals should go from ministry of justice to a new dedicated unit for asylum applicants to make incentives for decisions to be right first time.

Family reunion bill must go through, and HUGELY IMPORTANTLY, the restoration of legal aid to what it was before 2012.

We demand Safe and legal routes for at least 10,000 each year in expansion of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme to not just from Syria but other conflict zones such as Myanmar. Next time you see something on T V about horrors elsewhere and think “what can I do”. You can start by voting for this.

We demand deeds not words from government on existing schemes for welcoming refugee children, and an expansion of it too.

Victims of trafficking need more than warm words, their exploitation leaves them feeling very insecure and they need to be supported so they can give evidence against. It is so important that they are not returned to country of origin where they can be trafficked again.

AS LIBERALS WE MUST LEAD THE WAY TO HAVE A WELCOMING SOCIETY THAT WE TREAT PEOPLE WITH COMPASSION AND HUMANITY, AND GIVES THEM JUSTICE AND DIGNITY.

MOST OF ALL WE MUST VOTE TODAY TO GIVE THEM HOPE.

FOR ALL SUFFERING FROM ISSUES I HAVE MENTIONED,NOW , AND NOT NEXT YEAR. VOTE FOR OUR AMENDMENT AND THEN THE MOTION.”

There were a series of interventions in the debate, and you can hear Janet King and Jacqui Bell here https://youtu.be/tgScArR958M?t=10004

We were extremely pleased that we didn’t see anyone at all voting against our amendment, and that along with other good amendments the whole of the policy motion was agreed. You can see it here Prosperity and Dignity in Migration final form in word, and the original policy paper is here (https://www.libdems.org.uk/autumn-18-policy-paper-131 ).

Now the hard work begins of campaigning on all of these, and more, of the issues, and persuading the other parties to back us​