I start by thanking the Minister for Immigration for listening to my recent plea for the Merry family, whose mother, Volha, received a letter from the Home Office to deport her and take her away from her family home in Coatbridge, where she lives with her husband Derek and daughter Milana. The Minister admitted that the letter, sent in error, should not have been sent, and apologised to me for the mistake. Madam Deputy Speaker, can you imagine if you were sent a letter, to take you away—away from your family, your children, your neighbours, your home? Imagine how many people would run for cover if they received a letter similar to the one that dropped through Mrs Merry’s letterbox. The Minister’s admission came after weeks of chaos from the Home Office, amid the scandals of the Windrush generation and immigration targets.
The question remains: how many more letters were sent in error? How many people are in hiding, in fear of this Government coming to break down their door to take them away? Is it any wonder that we have people unregistered living in the UK, living in fear, living in pain because they cannot go to hospital, living in someone’s house that they cannot call home—mothers and fathers, frightened to speaking out for fear of losing their children?
I was glad that Mr and Mrs Merry came to see me; I was their last hope. They were ready to run. I could see the fear in their eyes; that young couple had tried everything to register themselves, so that they could live in peace, without worry, to bring up their daughter Milana, who was born in the UK, just as her father was. I saw a family who were desperate, who wanted help, and I was determined to keep that family together, to help them stay close to their friends in Coatbridge.
I came to this place to speak out for people—to speak out for my constituents, but I will not be the judge. The judge will be little Milana, who will see the tears that her mother shed every day turn to a smile when she has the chance to hold her daughter, instead of being held in a detention centre, ready to be deported, because of this Government.