Windrush Compensation Scheme

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:18 pm on 9th April 2019.

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Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Labour, Tottenham 1:18 pm, 9th April 2019

I should not need to remind anyone in this House that the Windrush scandal is a national disgrace. At least 11 people who were wrongly deported from the UK by their own Government have died. At least 164 British citizens were wrongly deported or detained. Home Office officials have told the media that 15,000 individuals may have been harmed by the contempt that their Department showed.

Last week, one year since the scandal broke, the Home Secretary finally announced the compensation scheme, to begin the process of reconciliation for the Government’s grievous errors. The Home Secretary apologised again, on behalf of the Government, for the failings and repeated his promise to do right by the Windrush generation. Crucially, he told members of this House:

“There is no cap on the scheme” and

“it will be based on people’s needs”.—[Official Report, 3 April 2019;
Vol. 657, c. 1048.]

His words seem to have provided false reassurance.

In the response to the Windrush compensation scheme document that the Home Secretary brought to this House, there was no detail of caps. Instead, that was quietly published online in a separate compensation scheme rules document, slipped out later on 3 April. MPs therefore had no chance to scrutinise or question the truth that his Department had set out incredibly strict caps to be awarded for different losses—a £500 payment for legal costs incurred; £500 for people who had been denied the chance to go to university; £1,000 for those wrongly obliged to leave the country under a so-called voluntary return scheme; and a mere £10,000 for people who were wrongly deported. Victims have correctly described these payments as “peanuts” and “insultingly low”.

I say to the Minister: £10,000 is less than one Secretary of State’s gross salary per month. Is that all that a person will have lost if they have been locked up, if they have been deported, if they have been made homeless, because £10,000 is all that they would get from her Department? Is this all it costs someone to be denied access to their family and friends for years or decades—to their own country? Is this the price that you put on my constituents being deported for no wrongdoing and nothing that they have themselves done? Is this how this Government value the lives of black Britons? I say to the Minister: you promised to do right by the Windrush generation, but quite rightly many of them think that they have been misled.

Let this be the final betrayal of the Windrush generation. Scrap the caps, and compensate them properly for the wrongs that have been done to them.