Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
It has been a huge honour to sit in the Chamber and listen to so many powerful speeches. I start by thanking the members of the Windrush generation, because time and again we have heard stories about how so many of those individuals have each helped to build the Britain that we know and love today. Like many others in this place, I regularly have constituents who come to me, asking for help with their Home Office cases. The Windrush citizens are British citizens and must be treated as such. As the new Home Secretary said as recently as Monday, this could have been his own family, and he and his team are right to be absolutely focused on getting help to those who need it now.
I am enormously proud to live in a country where people from all over the world want to come and live. I am enormously proud to be in a country where people can come from another place and sit in this House as a Member of Parliament. People can watch their own children sit on the Front Benches in this Parliament and rise now to become Home Secretary.
This is a fantastic country, and the rest of the world is watching how we act now and how we manage this situation. How we help the Windrush people will have huge precedence for how we then help the 3 million EU citizens who also have the right to be here, and how we expect other European countries to help the 1 million British citizens living with their families in Europe. We must get this right.
If the motion said the Windrush generation are British and have the right to be here, I would vote for it. If it said that many members of the Windrush generation have been treated abysmally, I would vote for it. If it said that the Windrush generation should be apologised to and compensated, I would vote for it. If it said that we must learn from this and make sure it never happens again, I would certainly vote for it. If it said that the Home Office should urgently put in extra staff to help sort out the problems, I would vote for it.
But that is not what this motion says. This motion says we should take staff off the frontline—staff who could be helping to sort out those problems—and send them into the archives, send them to seize computers and trawl through emails, and send them to grab people’s mobile phones to find out what their text messages say. As the Home Secretary said, that could take 100 people off the frontline—people who should be helping our citizens. That is why I will not vote for the motion tonight.