IT is arguably the world’s most exclusive lottery in which the names of Members of the UK Parliament who want it are entered into a ballot that sees 20 names drawn out with usually only the first seven then able to present a Private Member’s Bill to the House of Commons.

In the latest ballot, Western Isles SNP MP Angus MacNeil was the seventh name to be drawn out, and later today he will announce that he is going to use his Bill to fight for the rights of refugees.

His Refugee Family Reunion Bill will address several issues that have split families. It will give refugee children the right to be reunited with their parents - under current reunion rules children cannot sponsor their parents to come to the UK, leaving them alone here.

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The Bill will also expand the definition of family member as currently only spouses and children under the age of 18 are allowed to join their family in the UK, and it will also reintroduce legal aid for refugee family applications, which stopped in 2012.

Private Member’s Bills can change the law of the land – the abolition of capital punishment and the legalisation of abortion began as such bills – but they do usually require backing from the government of the day. Governments tends to favour bills put forward by its own party members, and only one Labour member and one Liberal Democrat MP saw their bills become law under David Cameron’s coalition and Tory governments compared to 32 successful Conservative bills.

MacNeil will present his Private Members Bill in the House of Commons next Wednesday, 19 July. Though it has little chance of reaching the Statute Book unless the Conservative and Democratic Unionist parties find a magic compassion tree, the Bill will allow MacNeil to publicise the plight of refugee families with the first debate expected in early 2018.

MacNeil said the plight of refugees is an issue which many constituents have got in touch with him about in recent months. In the coming months he says he will put pressure on the Government to support this piece of legislation which will offer families a chance to be reunited and to escape danger.

He has already secured support from the Refugee Council, UNHCR the UN Refugee Agency, Amnesty International, the British Red Cross and Oxfam GB.

MacNeil said: “It is a great honour to be drawn in the Private Members Bill ballot. I am glad to have been given the opportunity to help develop the debate. I think the most important area for me to develop a debate is on the humanitarian side.

“We should not be only glad that they are alive but do everything in our power to help them to thrive. We see from many other communities of refugees around the world, be it Vietnamese in Canada, when people are given a chance they usually thrive and enrich their lives, enrich the community life and enrich the national life.

“We all have a stake in this economically and we certainly have a stake in this morally and from a humanitarian perspective. Hopefully my bill will change the law to help people and at the very least it should prick consciousness to change bureaucracy.”