Windrush

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:40 pm on 2nd May 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mark Menzies Mark Menzies Conservative, Fylde 4:40 pm, 2nd May 2018

I want to keep my words short. It is a pleasure to follow Emma Reynolds.

I would like to comment on the words of Mr Lammy because he said that it may be five years before he is back here fighting this cause. I hope it is not that length of time because, while I disagreed with some of the sentiments in what he said, it is important that the whole House pay tribute to the work and dedication he has put in to draw attention to an issue that should never have been there. Without his hard work and dedication—it was probably very frustrating at times—I certainly would not have known about this issue, and the Guardian journalist would not have known about it. So tribute has to be paid to the right hon. Gentleman, and I am sure his constituents are very proud of the work he has done on their behalf.

This is an opportunity for us to celebrate the rich diversity that the Windrush generation have brought to our shores. Regardless of whether we are talking about the first generation, their children or, in many cases, their grandchildren, we have to recognise them for the benefits they have brought. If we visit a health service in this country, it is almost impossible not to find examples of where those have been enriched by what has come to our shores. That is incredibly welcome.

It is important that we use this opportunity to learn from what has been a shocking example of failure. Whether it was deliberate or accidental, people were let down and betrayed. That was an absolutely shocking stain on a great Department of State. I really hope that Ministers and officials, regardless of party, reflect on the decisions they took and make sure that we learn from this, move forward and never make systematic mistakes again.

We are entering a period when we will be dealing with vast numbers of EU nationals, which, again, will potentially throw up lots of complications and questions. We have to make sure that we draw on what has happened, to ensure that the rights and protections for those people, their children, their spouses and so on are honoured and respected.

I would like to pick up on the remarks made by Shabana Mahmood about immigration solicitors, because a huge amount of work needs to be done. Many of these solicitors work honestly and openly and do a great job for those who come to see them, but there are others who do not. There are others who are not fully qualified. There are others who seek to charge exorbitant fees to people who often cannot afford to pay them. There are others who give people bad advice and who send them on a runaround. Very quick bits of advice could solve an issue, but some of these solicitors would rather look the other way and tie people into horrendous, horrific contracts that often leave them in penury. I would say to those on the Government Front Bench that, if there is no work being done on immigration solicitors, it needs to be done, because many vulnerable people are paying an awful price.

I hope that we are able to come together to sort the mess of Windrush and to ensure that immigration policy in this country is fair and balanced, regardless of the colour of someone’s skin or where they are from. I hope that we are able to ensure that it reflects them as an individual and the contribution we believe they can make to our country.

This is a moment when we can move forward. I encourage those on the Government Front Bench to continue in the way they have been doing in recent weeks. If we get this right, tens of thousands of people—not hundreds of people—will be grateful. We should be sorry for the people who have paid a horrific price, but we should be thanking those who have shone a light on what is an unmitigated disaster and who are putting a wrong right.