Windrush

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:52 pm on 2nd May 2018.

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Photo of John Cryer John Cryer Labour, Leyton and Wanstead 3:52 pm, 2nd May 2018

I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the inquiry, but this is an issue of transparency. He and I agree about an awful lot of things, but we are on opposite sides of the fence here. The documents should be put in the public domain. We can redact certain things, such as civil servants’ names, but the names of elected people should not be redacted.

Both the cases that I mentioned earlier resulted in victories, but I am dealing with many other cases. Over the past two or three years—this goes back a long way—I have spent an awful lot of time writing to schools, former employers, colleges, the police and in one case I even had to write to the Army to try to check the records to prove that people who had every right to be here could assume that right.

This country has close ties with the Caribbean and with other Commonwealth countries, and we should bear in mind that this debate will be watched across the Commonwealth. Thousands of people will be watching us in countries such as Jamaica, India and Pakistan. Those close ties with the Commonwealth, and with the Caribbean in particular, have their roots in an appalling institution: the empire. It was built on piracy and slavery, but nevertheless the one good thing to come out of that poisonous institution was the Commonwealth, which has always given relatively small countries, often with little political and economic clout, a platform for their voices to be heard, particularly here and particularly at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings.

After the war, a series of Governments in this country and in others worked to foster the bonds with the Commonwealth, but those bonds have now been loosened. It is not simply that communities in this country have been given cause to fear what might happen, which is bad enough; we have also undermined relationships with countries across the globe. I never thought I would see the Prime Minister of Jamaica standing in Downing Street, expressing his dismay at the British Government and their policies. That goes way beyond what any previous Jamaican Prime Minister has said, and previous Prime Ministers were fairly critical—I am thinking of Michael Manley and his father Norman Manley. Nobody has expressed such sentiments in the heart of the capital. This Government’s job now is to rebuild links with the affected communities and reassure them that they are safe and not under threat. The Government also need—this includes the Foreign Office—to rebuild links with the Commonwealth countries that have had their faith in Britain shattered.