A bid to end a “grievous injustice” facing refugees and help reunite family members fleeing war and persecution will be made in the Commons today by the SNP’s Angus Brendan MacNeil.

The SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar is hoping that his private Refugees [Family Reunion] Bill will get enough support in the Commons to progress it further through the parliamentary process. It is only likely to succeed with support from the UK Government.

Mr MacNeill explained that his bill, which already has a deal of cross-party support, sought to ease “regressive and strict” UK Government immigration rules and allow the families of refugees to come to the UK and be reunited.

The legislation seeks to ensure:

*child refugees in the UK would have the right to sponsor their close family to come to the UK, so they could rebuild their lives together and help them integrate in their new community;

*an expansion of who qualifies as a family, so that young people who have turned 18 and elderly parents, could live in safety with their families in the UK and

*the reintroduction of legal aid, so refugees, who have lost everything, have the support they need to navigate the complicated process of being reunited with their families.

The SNP MP, who chairs the Commons International Trade Committee, said he was buoyed by the cross-party support he had secured from not only Nationalist MPs but also those from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the Greens and the Democratic Unionists. Outwith Parliament, he has also received backing from the Refugee Council, the UN Refugee Agency, Amnesty International, the British Red Cross and Oxfam GB.

Urging the UK Government to protect refugees rather than turning its back on them, Mr MacNeil said: “At the moment, the UK Government’s regressive and strict immigration laws have punished child refugees by cutting them off from their families, which leaves them vulnerable and risks young people being exploited or possibly trafficked without that family support around them.”

He insisted the legislation went beyond party politics. “It is a simple question of humanity, compassion, and the UK living up to its responsibilities on the international stage in dealing with the refugee crisis.”

The Nationalist MP noted how the Scottish Government had repeatedly called on Whitehall to step up to its responsibility and to take in its fair share of refugees to resettle.

At the end of last year, the SNP administration, he pointed out, had welcomed its 2,000th Syrian refugee to Scotland, meeting its target of resettling refugees three years ahead of schedule through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Programme.

Last month, the UK Government revealed it had reached beyond halfway in its target of settling 20,000 refugees from the Syrian civil war through the scheme; some 10,538 people have been rehoused in Britain.

Mr MacNeil said: “More than half of the world’s refugees are children; young people who - having fled hell on earth - are searching for ways to rebuild their lives. However, when they reach the UK they are met with red tape and rules that prevent them from being able to do so.

“It’s time the UK Government recognised this grievous injustice, listened to concerns raised by human rights organisations and cross-party MPs and backed this Bill, so that refugees can be reunited with their families and get on with rebuilding their lives,” he added.