The Dubs Amendment: 3,000 refugee children?

10 February 2017
What was claimed

An earlier version of the Dubs Amendment specified that the government should accept 3,000 child refugees from Europe.

Our verdict


What was claimed

The government never committed to taking 3,000 child refugees from Europe under the Dubs Amendment.

Our verdict

There was never an official target, although 3,000 was the number mentioned by campaigners, some of whom say they believed that to be the figure. The government only accepted the Dubs Amendment after the 3,000 target was taken out of it.

The government has been accused of accepting thousands fewer child refugees from elsewhere in Europe than it had indicated. The Home Office announced on 8 February that 350 is the limit under the so-called ‘Dubs Amendment’ scheme.

“Just to clarify, there was never a number made. What the government committed to was to make sure every child that came, who might have been through the most horrific situation, would be given as much support as they could possibly have through the local councils, and the local councils have come back and said ‘this is the number we feel we can support.’”

Claire Perry MP, 9 February 2017

“But the original Immigration Act of 2016 did state that we would take 3,000 child refugees? It was in the amendment, it wasn’t accepted?”

David Dimbleby, 9 February 2017

So what happened?

Well, so far as we’re aware, the government never officially said that the number of children resettled under the Dubs Amendment would be 3,000, although there may have been unofficial indications to that effect.

3,000 was the number that campaigners and opposition MPs were pushing for in the spring of 2016. Alfred Dubs, a member of the House of Lords, proposed this number on 21 March in a suggested amendment to the Immigration Bill.

In the lead-up to the vote on the amendment, David Cameron’s government did say that it would resettle 3,000 children and their families—but from the Middle East and North Africa rather than from Europe.

That was on 21 April. On 24 April, MPs rejected the 3,000 target for children already in Europe. The Lords then suggested the following instead:

“The Secretary of State must, as soon as possible after the passing of this Act, make arrangements to relocate to the United Kingdom and support a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe.”

The government accepted that version on 4 May, precisely because it didn’t contain a fixed target. Lord Dubs said that the revised version “drops the specific number, because the Government were resistant to that.”

It’s been widely reported that, in a meeting the same day, immigration minister James Brokenshire gave backbench MPs the impression that the number would be in the thousands. The Archbishop of Canterbury says that he and other supporters of the scheme “believed that the Government was committed to welcoming up to 3,000 children under this scheme”.

But Ms Perry is correct that until this week, there was never a “specified number” of refugee children officially announced.

The Dubs Amendment also says that “the number of children to be resettled… shall be determined by the Government in consultation with local authorities”. Councils said that they can handle 400 unaccompanied children, and 50 of those places would be needed for children arriving from Calais under a separate scheme, according to the Home Office’s statement.

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