Local News for Friday 12th July 2019


Recently in Parliament, Isles MP Angus B MacNeil led calls for the Tory government to urgently reform refugee family union rules to ensure that vulnerable people with close relatives in the UK have safe and legal pathways to reunite with them.

Mr MacNeil led a debate in the House of Commons and also hosted a reception in Parliament in partnership with charity Play for Progress which supports unaccompanied child refugees through therapy, music and the arts. The reception was sponsored by Isle of Harris Distillers Ltd and the Association of Exiled Scots.

During the debate, Mr MacNeil called on the UK Government to back his Private Member’s Bill that, if passed, would allow child refugees in the UK to sponsor their close family to come to the UK; expand the qualification criteria so that young people who have turned 18 and elderly parents qualify; and, reintroduce legal aid so refugees have the support they need to navigate the legal system.

Despite the UK government’s opposition, the Bill passed its Second Reading with cross-party support.

The Refugee Council, the UN Refugee Agency, Amnesty UK and the British Red Cross are amongst a number of agencies that back the Isles MP’s Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill.



Highlands MSP Rhoda Grant has asked the Scottish Government to provide support for people with health concerns or mobility issues by allowing them to bring escorts on ferry trips free of charge.

Currently EU regulations stipulate that escorts can be carried free of charge if the ferry provider has requested that they are present, but Ms Grant wants the support to be offered for vulnerable passengers as standard.

Ms Grant said: “I have a number of constituents, particularly those in the islands, who are required to travel to the mainland for medical treatment which is not provided in their home area. As well as having to cope with side-effects from treatments, such as chemotherapy and operations, many of these constituents may require support for anxiety, depression or to face possible diagnoses while visiting mainland clinics.

“In addition there are a number of constituents with mobility issues, permanent and temporary, who would feel great relief at being able to travel with an escort that they trust, without having to bear the extra financial burden.

“With many NHS boards now refusing or unable to financially support escort travel I feel strongly that it would provide an invaluable service to vulnerable passengers if they were able to bring escorts with them at a reduced cost.

“I hope that the Scottish Government realise that such a move could provide significant support for some of the most vulnerable in our society at a marginal cost to them.”