May pressed over asylum for vulnerable Syrian refugees

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The government will make an announcement on "enhanced support" for Syrian refugees ahead of a Labour-led debate and vote in the Commons on Wednesday, MPs have been told.

Home Secretary Theresa May said she was working with the foreign secretary, William Hague, to look at what further support the UK can provide for Syrian refugees.

Mrs May was responding to a question from her opposite number, Yvette Cooper, on 27 January 2014 on whether the government would sign up to the UN's resettlement programme.

Labour has called on the government to join the programme and accept the most vulnerable Syrian asylum seekers. It has tabled a debate on the subject, which will take place on 29 January.

The government initially said it would not join the programme but at prime minister's questions last week David Cameron said he would reconsider Britain's policy.

Ms Cooper argued that the programme offers "huge flexibility" in terms of the numbers of people Britain can offer to help, and asked Mrs May: "Will she agree in principle to sign up to the UN programme: yes or no?"

Mrs May told the House the UK was one of Europe's biggest providers of humanitarian aid to Syria, and had accepted several thousand Syrian refugees over the past few years.

"The government is looking at what is the most appropriate way for us to provide enhanced support to that which we are already giving," she added.

Addressing Ms Cooper, Mrs May continued: "She will have a response from the government in advance of this House considering the motion that the opposition has tabled on Wednesday."

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell counselled that the home secretary should not to allow the government's "moral compass" to be set by the UK Independence Party.

Mrs May reiterated that UK support for victims of Syria's civil was under consideration, and an announcement would be made in due course.

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