A Bolton MP has said he would ‘very happy’ to house a Palestinian refugee in his home and called for the UK to recognise Palestine as a state.

Conservative MP Mark Logan, who broke ranks with his party in February to support a ceasefire in Gaza, was speaking at a debate in Parliament’s Westminster Hall on Monday, which was prompted by an e-petition which gained more than 100,000 signatures.

The petition called for the Government to create a special Visa scheme to allow Palestinian people affected by war to come in to the UK, echoing the ‘Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme’ launched in March 2022.

The Ukraine scheme allows sponsors in the UK to nominate Ukrainians and their families to stay with them in their home or a separate property, even if they have no family ties to the UK.

Speaking at the debate, Mr Logan said: “I think it’s incredibly important for a number of reasons to consider Palestinian individuals affected by the war to be allowed into the UK just as we’ve done for Ukraine.

The Bolton News: Mark LoganMark Logan (Image: Parliament)

“Currently there isn’t any bespoke visa scheme for Palestinians able to come to the UK in much the way there had been for Ukraine.”

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He added: “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, then, and only then, can you have the recognition to have the building blocks that it joins the international community as a fully paid-up member.”

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The recent outbreak of war in Gaza started after an attack by  Hamas on Israel on October 7, which saw more than 1,100 people killed.

Since then, the ensuing war in Gaza has seen more than 35,000 Palestinians killed, according to official statistics tallied by the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza.

The Bolton News: Displaced Palestinians Picture Abdel Kareem Hana/APDisplaced Palestinians Picture Abdel Kareem Hana/AP (Image: (Abdel Kareem Hana/AP)

Speaking after an intervention by Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael, Mr Logan said: “If there was a scheme to come out at some point in the future to welcome Palestinians, there may be a challenge between the member [Alistair Carmichael MP] and my good self to house a Palestinian in our household.

“I would be very happy to do so if such a program existed.”

Later in the debate, Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi said: “We see it on our screens every day, it’s not that this is being done in secrecy, it’s being done very openly and the whole world is watching, and has been watching for months and months and months.

“They’ve heard the various leaders of the Israeli government and their comments, such as ‘the Palestinians or the Gazas are the Amaleki, or the fact that the leaders, defence ministers, and generals are saying ‘they’re not human beings, they should be in the Sinai desert’, or the minister who looked at the complete devastation of Gaza and said ‘oh, this is such a beautiful site, we’re looking forward to building our homes in there’.

“We’ve seen the relentless bombing, bombing, bombing, and bombing – we’ve seen children, their limbs blown up, women, adults, other people damaged, we’ve heard people’s skins peeling off.

“We’ve seen real crimes being committed in front of our own eyes, yet all we have is platitudes by all the leaders in the world.”

The Bolton News: Yasmin Qureshi said the Home Office had been ‘incredibly harsh’ to Palestinians over the yearsYasmin Qureshi said the Home Office had been ‘incredibly harsh’ to Palestinians over the years (Image: Parliament)

The Bolton South East MP added that she believed the Home Office's attitude to Palestinian refugees and visitors had been ‘incredibly harsh’ over the years, and raised the issue of Bolton teacher Julia Simpkins, whose efforts to bring Palestinian schoolchildren to Bolton had been blocked.

She added: “I ask, what is it about the Palestinians that’s so different from Ukrainians, because I can assure you the perils and the suffering they have is just as great, if not greater – not that one should be comparing suffering of any one group of victims to another group.”

Home Office minister Tom Pursglove said the Government’s arrangements will be kept “under review”.

He added that applications in relation to injured children seeking hospital assistance in the UK would be “treated with the utmost seriousness”.

Labour MP Cat Smith, who opened the debate, said signatories of the petition would be “disappointed” with his response, adding: “The minister has said a lot of words, but frankly I think that members of the public watching will be thinking that they made very little sense.”

If you have a story, I cover the whole borough of Bolton. Please get in touch at jack.fifield@newsquest.co.uk.