Windrush

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:19 pm on 30th April 2018.

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Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Shadow Home Secretary 4:19 pm, 30th April 2018

I congratulate the Home Secretary on his new position occupying one of the great offices of state, and thank him for coming to the House to answer this urgent question after what must have been quite a busy morning.

Is the Home Secretary aware how ashamed many British people are about the Windrush scandal, how frightened and angry the Windrush generation and their families are, and how the scandal has resonated around the Commonwealth? He talks about the Windrush generation getting the legal status they deserve, but actually they were always British. They were always British citizens.

Is the Home Secretary aware that this is a matter not just for the Windrush generation and Commonwealth citizens from the Caribbean? The plight that befell the Windrush generation could also affect Commonwealth citizens who came here from south Asia and west Africa. What steps does he intend to take to protect later cohorts of Commonwealth citizens from the indignity and humiliation that the Windrush generation have had to suffer?

The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that it was the Prime Minister, as Home Secretary, who introduced the Immigration Act 2014, which removed Commonwealth citizens’ protection from deportation. The new Home Secretary has been part of the Government’s immigration implementation taskforce. Was he aware of the problems being caused to Commonwealth citizens? Was he aware of the warnings in an internal Home Office impact assessment? Was he aware of the warnings from the previous Communities and Local Government Secretary that the “costs and risks” involved in the “hostile environment” would “outweigh the benefits”? Will the new Home Secretary commit at the very least to reinstating the protection for Commonwealth citizens that was removed by the current Prime Minister in 2014? What progress has been made in identifying Windrush people who have been deported, detained or improperly refused re-entry? We will also soon want to know more about compensation and its levels.

The Windrush generation was my parents’ generation. I and most British people believe that they have been treated appallingly. The Home Secretary will be judged not on the statements he makes this afternoon, but on what he does to put the situation right and to get justice for the Windrush generation.