Why isn't the UK government waiving visas for Ukrainian refugees?

1st March 2022

Kevin Brennan Labour, Cardiff West
Colleagues on both sides of the House were a little perturbed yesterday when the Home Secretary said:

“I urge colleagues not to attempt casework themselves”.—[Official Report, 28 February 2022; Vol. 709, c. 701.]

I am glad she has rowed back on that today in her statement. This session has shown the vital role that Members can play in bringing cases to the attention of Ministers where they need action. I welcome what she has said about that. I have listened carefully to her, and she said that she wanted to do things in a united and international way. I do not think she ruled out taking the approach of a temporary protection mechanism to allow access to public services. At the end of the day, do we really want to be a country that until recently was granting passports and privileges to Putin’s friends but that will not waive visas for Putin’s Ukrainian victims in their hour of need?

Priti Patel The Secretary of State for the Home Department
If I may, I will clarify a couple of things to the hon. Gentleman. First, in terms of what I said about casework yesterday, Members raise casework on the Floor of the House, and that is absolutely fine—I have not said, “Don’t do that”—but it is also the case that Members should bring cases directly in fast time. In fact, colleagues have emailed me since the weekend. I have been picking them up myself. Obviously it is much more efficient just to come to me directly. We are all 24/7; that is the nature of all our work. I have always said we will happily pick those cases up, rather than having Members waiting to bring them to the Floor of the House. That is the point I make.

I rule nothing out, but the point about visas is that having documentation of individuals is important, particularly when they come here to access public services, to gain employment and all those kinds of things, and the biometric checks are also important, and that is the point I have been making. We need to do those checks and to keep them in place. We will work with all colleagues. I am in touch with the commissioner in the EU. We have to learn from each other, because this is a real-time crisis, and things will probably get a lot worse, so we have to have the agility and flexibility to respond.