MP’s Column - We are right to help refugees

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Following a productive summer in the constituency, Members of Parliament have now returned to Westminster.

Many of us have been struck by the desperate plight of Syrian refugees fleeing the destruction and chaos of their native land.

I have consistently argued that we, as a Christian country, have a moral obligation to look after our fellow human beings who are affected by disasters, be they natural or manmade.

Given this country’s ill-conceived participation in the Iraq War (which I voted against at the time), we also bear a certain responsibility for the violence and instability in the region.

The Prime Minister has outlined his plans to allow 20,000 refugees from refugee camps in the Middle East to claim asylum here in the United Kingdom.

He is completely right to be generous in offering a safe haven for this many people, and it is very wise to offer it not to those who have made their way across the European continent – often through numerous safe and stable countries who are equally capable of offering asylum.

It is important to recall that people who are legitimately fleeing violence, death and destruction are a completely different category than economic migrants who are moving countries for financial opportunity.

We still welcome those who can contribute to our economy and society, within sensible bounds, and who will assimilate to our already quite varied existing culture here in Britain.

But this must be decided in a rational, well-thought-out way, and immigrants must come here legally, not through underhanded law-breaking.

To reward illegal immigration would only encourage people-smugglers and human traffickers who take advantage of deprived and underprivileged people, and this must not be allowed to continue.

Closer to home here in Lincolnshire, I am working with other MPs to pressure the Government to do more about ensuring access to high-speed broadband.

Around the country, the Conservative government’s long-term economic plan is bearing fruit.

Great Britain is now growing faster than any other major advanced economy. The size of our economy grew by three per cent last year, up from the 2.6 per cent we thought it would be in March.

And, if trends continue, it also looks like we will continue as the strongest growing major advanced economy for a second year in a row.

The Chancellor has set out his vision of Britain as a high-wage, low-tax economy.

We feel that Britain deserves a pay rise, and that’s why the National Living Wage will be introduced for over-25s from next April.

This means less government interference and more freedom for working families and individuals.

Full employment is another high priority aim, to make sure that everyone has a job and is making the decisions to control their own life.

We’ll also be cutting taxes for working people, while finding £12 billion in savings from our bloated welfare budget.

The parliamentary year just starting should prove to be a productive one for Lincolnshire and for the country as a whole.

Sir Edward Leigh MP