By Adam George
The Conservative MP for Monmouth, David Davies, has caused controversy by suggesting dental checks on refugees to determine their age. Davies, Chair of the Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee, said dental checks or hand x-rays to check bone density should be used to check that children are indeed under-eighteen.
His comments came after the first child refugees arrived from Calais on Tuesday 18 October for resettlement in the UK. They included a 12-year-old girl from Eritrea and 12 boys aged between 13 and 17. But Davies has argued that they “don’t look like children”, and that he hoped “British hospitality wasn’t being abused”.
British right-wing media backed up the MP’s comments. The Daily Mail, the Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph all reported upon concerns that the first 14 ‘children’ relocated from Calais to Britain — aged between 14 and 17, with a legal right to be here — are actually adult men.
Davies’ idea of dental checks has received a lot of criticism from fellow politicians, celebrities and even dentists themselves. The British Dental Association (BDA) said Mr Davies’ demands for testing were “inappropriate and unethical”. It asked that the privacy of these “vulnerable young people” be respected by the media, and said it was not even possible to accurately say if someone was under the age of 18 using dental tests.
The often outspoken journalist Piers Morgan reacted to the comments very passionately. Davies appeared on Good Morning Britain to debate the age of child refugees – but Piers made it very clear that he was not a fan of Davies’ views. Piers left the right-wing politician red-faced as he lambasted his view that migrants should be forced to have their teeth inspected before being allowed to enter the country in a bid to prove they’re under 18.
Amid a fiery exchange, Morgan told Davies he was “making a series of sneering, fatuous little points”. He said: “Who are you to decide that these very impoverished people who have been through an absolutely hellish time and are coming to this country in comparatively small numbers and your response is, ‘urgh. I don’t think they’re the right age. Let’s check their teeth’.”
The Welsh MP has also received death threats in the wake of his comments. Mr Davies, who has been MP for Monmouth since 2005, said that two “serious” death threats directed towards him have been reported to the police. However he is still standing by what he said and has stated that he is not against child refugees coming into the country.
This is not the first time that Davies has made controversial comments regarding the refugee crisis. He recently criticised Lily Allen’s recent apology on behalf of Britain to the Calais migrants. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday: “We must not be naive about this. It’s no good Lily Allen turning up with tears in her eyes and all the rest of it – we need to be quite hard-nosed here”.
He also came under fire earlier in the year when clashing with Anna Nichol, chair of the Welsh Refugee Council, on BBC Radio Wales as she argued that the UK should take in more refugees than it has done so far. Mr Davies said: “What the Refugee Council is suggesting is completely irresponsible” and even suggested that Ms. Nichol “has blood on her hands”. Many people said that these comments were “inhumane” and “immoral”.
Last week Cardiff Council announced that the Welsh capital will be welcoming child refugees from the Calais Jungle in the near future. It is not totally clear how many children will be arriving but it is believed that they will be reunited with their families.