SNP MP Hannah Bardell has called for UK citizens to be given a legal right to consular assistance and enshrine a duty of care towards British nationals who face difficulties overseas.
The call comes as thousands of British nationals have been stranded around the world due to the coronavirus crisis, with many facing difficulties accessing support.
The Livingston MP has campaigned for better consular support after two constituents died in suspicious circumstances abroad and is founder and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Deaths Abroad, Consular Services and Assistance.
Commenting, SNP MP Hannah Bardell said:
“Thousands of UK citizens have been stranded abroad through no fault of their own – and, while we welcome the efforts made to repatriate them, more needs to be done.
“The lack of support for citizens abroad is a long-standing issue that coronavirus has turned into a crisis for those affected.
“The UK government has no legal duty of care for British nationals overseas, and the guidance on who should receive help is vague, confusing and at the discretion of consular staff.
“It’s time to put a right to consular assistance in law and ensure that citizens in difficulty abroad receive the help they deserve.”
The text of Hannah Bardell’s Early Day Motion is below:
ESTABLISHING A LEGAL RIGHT TO CONSULAR ASSISTANCE FOR BRITISH NATIONALS
That this House recommends clarifying the guidance around consular assistance and enshrining in law the right to consular assistance at a time when thousands of British nationals are stranded overseas during the outbreak of Covid-19; recognises that currently there is no legal right to consular assistance for British nationals including those who are stranded, imprisoned or who die overseas; further recognises the current guidance around who will qualify for consular assistance is based on discretion; further notes that the guidance that assessments of vulnerability are made on the basis of the needs you have, based on who you are, where you are and your situation is vague; notes the work that has been undertaken to clarify this guidance by the
‘All Party Parliamentary Group on Deaths Abroad, Consular Services and Assistance ’ as detailed in its October 2019 Report entitled Why families in the UK deserve better and what can be done; further notes the aims of the British Rights Abroad Group petitioning the UK Government to make consular assistance a clear legal right; acknowledges the detrimental effect on British nationals who learn in their hour of need that they are not legally entitled to consular assistance from their Government; further notes the millions of Brits who are currently stranded around the world due to covid-19 who may or may not be assisted in getting home; and urges the Government to act now on enshrining a legal right to consular assistance.