Palestinians: Visa Scheme — [Martin Vickers in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall am 4:52 pm ar 13 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mark Logan Mark Logan Ceidwadwyr, Bolton North East 4:52, 13 Mai 2024

I thank Cat Smith for leading the debate. It is incredibly important, for a number of reasons, to consider that Palestinian individuals affected by the war should be allowed into the UK, just as we have done for Ukraine. Currently, there is no bespoke visa scheme for Palestinians to allow them to come to the UK in much the way that there has been for Ukrainians.

I will keep my remarks fairly short, and I will touch first on the international community aspect. As we saw on Friday past, 143 countries at the United Nations General Assembly voted to recognise Palestine as a state. I think that Palestine has to be recognised as a state as soon as possible. I believe strongly in the two-state solution, and only then can Palestine have the recognition and the building blocks to join the international community as a fully paid-up member. Also, aside from that aspect, I want to go back to a point mentioned by the two previous speakers in the debate, the hon. Members for Lancaster and Fleetwood and for Poplar and Limehouse (Apsana Begum). They mentioned that perhaps favouritism was shown to some communities and not others, and I very much hope that that is not the case.

I can only speak on behalf of my constituents in Bolton North East, and today in the audience I count almost a third to perhaps a half of our audience members as having a link to Bolton in some shape or form. This issue is incredibly important for my constituents. Yasmin Qureshi and I saw that on Saturday when we attended a rally at Bolton Town Hall in support of the cause of the Palestinian people, and the Gazan people in particular. My constituents care very much about this issue, and they believe that Palestinian lives are as important as anyone else’s.

Bolton is a place of fantastic diversity, and we have incredibly good form in welcoming people from all across the world. I am very proud to have a Muslim community in Bolton that numbers almost 20%, mostly from Gujarati Indian backgrounds, but also Pakistani, British and others. It seems like I and the hon. Member for Bolton South East, whose constituency is beside mine, are working as a team: we attended the opening of a new medical centre in Bolton founded by an Afghan-British national. That shows the impact that people from across the world can have on modern-day British society. We should see people not as a burden but as an opportunity.