A former Member of Parliament for Watford has been appointed as the Minister for Refugees, Downing Street has said.

Richard Harrington, who stood down as a MP at the 2019 general election, will also be made a life peer sitting in the House of Lords.

In a statement, Number 10 said: "The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Richard Harrington as a Minister of State (Minister for Refugees) jointly in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Home Office.

"Her Majesty has also been pleased to signify Her intention of conferring a peerage of the United Kingdom for Life on Richard Harrington.

"The Prime Minister would like to thank Victoria Atkins MP for her work as Minister for Afghan Resettlement. She remains as a Minister of State in the Ministry of Justice."

It comes amid criticism of the British Government over its slow response to the refugee crisis following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with the Home Office revealing on Monday it had only granted 300 visa applications out of 17,700 which had been started – with 8,900 submitted.

More than two million people are said to have now fled war-torn Ukraine, with the figure expected to rise as Russia keeps up its bombardment of civilian areas.

In September 2015, Mr Harrington was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State with responsibility for Syrian refugees, reporting primarily to the Home Secretary Theresa May.

The Conservative politician first became Watford's MP in 2010 and went on to serve as a Government minister. But on March 25 2019, he resigned from the government to vote for Oliver Letwin's amendment after warning about the risks of a no-deal Brexit.

He had his Conservative whip removed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in September of that year but saw it reinstated a month later, but Mr Harrington had already confirmed he would not be standing in the next general election.