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Windrush

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:28 pm on 2nd May 2018.

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Photo of Alberto Costa Alberto Costa Conservative, South Leicestershire 3:28 pm, 2nd May 2018

In line with your six-minute time limit, Madam Deputy Speaker, I promise to be brief, and I say somewhat gingerly that it is a pleasure to follow Joanna Cherry.

I begin by putting on record how proud I am, as the son of economic immigrants, to welcome to the post of Home Secretary my right hon. Friend Sajid Javid, another son of economic immigrants. It is testament to the Conservative party, is it not, that only it would allow a Scots-Italian to be the Member of Parliament for South Leicestershire and a British Pakistani to become the Home Secretary? This demonstrates clearly that the Conservative party believes only in meritocracy and nothing else in terms of how one should serve the public.

Like many others in the House, I welcome the change in tone and approach that my right hon. Friend has taken in his brief time as Home Secretary. Recent events demonstrate the need for a human face as to how our immigration system works, as well as the need for exercising greater judgment when and where it is justified, and I firmly believe that the Secretary of State fits that profile well. As such, I very much look forward to working closely with him on the Government side of the House.

As we are aware, the Windrush generation, like many of us, have built their lives here and had their families here, and most importantly, this is their country and home. To that end, I very much welcome the steps that the Government have taken on this matter, but as ever—as with most issues—there is of course more to be done. In accepting that the state has let these good people down, we have to ensure not only that we build through the first steps that my right hon. Friend outlined, but that we continue to build bridges and repair relationships for the Windrush generation.

I am pleased that the Home Secretary has recognised that when people have suffered loss, they will be appropriately compensated. As a former lawyer in the Treasury Solicitor’s Department, I had the privilege of representing previous Home Secretaries, and I am all too aware of the litigious actions, some of which are entirely justified, that are brought against them in terms of unlawful detention and similar issues. I strongly encourage the Immigration Minister, who I am sure has already done so, to speak to colleagues in the Government Legal Department and ensure that the appropriate teams are in place to help those from the Windrush generation to obtain appropriate compensation, as outlined by the Home Secretary.

I especially welcome the setting up of a dedicated team to work with Government Departments, such as HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions. I understand that this new team will include a dedicated point of contact and will aim to resolve most cases within two weeks. This is indeed welcome news. I am also pleased that the Home Office has recognised the circumstances in which some former Commonwealth citizens have been wrongly subjected to removal and detention. Of course that is entirely unacceptable, but I am satisfied by the Home Secretary’s comments that departmental processes will be amended accordingly to ensure that this or similar situations never happen again.

I turn briefly to the situation of EU nationals, because it is important for the Home Office to recognise one administrative problem with processes that we would not want to develop. There is an oddity for children of EU nationals born in the United Kingdom between 2000 and 2006, in that they have to await their parents obtaining permanent residency in order to naturalise. I know that the Immigration Minister is looking carefully at the new settled status rules, but I ask her to look carefully at that issue to ensure that the Home Office adopts the right culture so that the documentation required for that category of EU nationals is appropriately obtained, with minimal delay and minimal inconvenience to them.

In closing, it is especially welcome to hear the Secretary of State’s assurances that the Windrush generation affected, who have given so much to our country, will be able to acquire their deserved legal status at no cost in an efficient and quick manner. Similarly and equally importantly, I am pleased that the children of the Windrush generation, who in most cases are already British citizens, will also be able to naturalise at no further cost, further enshrining the rights of the Windrush generation for years to come.