In the evening I sponsor a meeting in Parliament for the campaign to treat properly Iraqis who work for the Brits during our war there.
Dan Hardie, whose blog pushed this campaign to the fore, had brought together Mark Brockway (who was in Iraq with the army and employed interpreters), Andrew (who worked on the economic infrastructure), Richard Beeston of The Times (which has given the issue much impressive coverage – except for one blip in one piece which ignored the massive contribution people like Dan have made to the campaign) and three MPs: me, Ed Vaizey and Chris Bryant.
Mark and Andrew both gave eye witness accounts of what is going on in Iraq and how those who helped us by translating or other service now are being hunted down and killed. It was graphic, appalling and compelling.
These horrors made the mealy-mouthed, half-arsed announcement by G Brown yesterday to allow those who worked for us for more than 12 months some financial (very low) package to resettle and under agreed circumstances admittance to the UK look completely inadequate.
To me, I longed for Gordon just to say what needed to be said – we have a moral responsibility towards you and you are welcome in our country. That’s what Denmark did. In fact Denmark recognising the danger in which their employees now were – flew them and their families out.
Anyway – the key issues that came up for pursuit are: the need for our military to provide proper contracts with those who work for us, proper record keeping, inclusion of family members, removal of barriers for Iraqis needing to come here (currently they cannot get visas in Iraq but have to leave and go to Jordan before they can even apply), an immediate statement from the Government to our Iraqi employees which gives them the information and instruction as to what to do to access what was in the package, a website for them to get in touch (many are in hiding), and of course – the extension of the package to all those who worked for us – not just those who did twelve months. As Mark pointed out – many of the work periods co-incided with troop turn of duty – which was often six months! I have tabled an EDM to this effect. (An EDM – Early Day Motion – is a sort of Parliamentary petition – so please lobby your MP to sign it if you’re not one of my constituents).
Tomorrow, have discovered I am No 8 on the Order Paper for Prime Minister’s Questions – so hope we get that far down the list.