Deportation Flight to Jamaica

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:33 pm on 10th February 2020.

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Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 3:33 pm, 10th February 2020

Righting the wrongs suffered by the Windrush generation has been an absolute priority for this Government. People who arrived in this country as little more than infants, and who built lives and raised families here, were told they were no longer welcome. That should never have happened, and it was a terrible mistake by successive Governments and by the Home Office.

Since these injustices came to light, the Government have moved swiftly to give those affected the certainty they need. That is why we set up a taskforce to help people confirm their status. I can confirm that over 8,000 people have been granted some form of documentation, including over 5,000 grants of citizenship, under the scheme.

We have also launched a compensation scheme to address the financial hardship suffered by those left unable to work or unable to access other support systems. To ensure nothing like this ever happens again, the previous Home Secretary commissioned an independent lessons learned review.

In recent days, news coverage has referenced extracts of a draft report, which were leaked in June 2019, in the context of a planned deportation charter flight to Jamaica. I am not going to comment on leaks, but let me be very clear that the lessons learned report has not been suppressed. The report has yet to be submitted to Ministers by the independent adviser, Wendy Williams. It will be for the Home Secretary to publish her report once it has been received.

It is vital that we allow Wendy Williams the time and space to produce her report without political interference. When it is available, the Home Office is committed to publishing it as soon as practically possible and will take its findings and any recommendations very seriously.

With regard to tomorrow’s charter flight, the Home Secretary is required by law to issue a deportation order for anyone who is a serious or persistent foreign national offender. It does not matter what part of the world they are from. Whether it is the United States, Jamaica, Australia or Canada, it is criminality, not nationality, that counts.

That legal requirement is set out in the UK Borders Act 2007, which was introduced under a Labour Government, and I remind Mr Lammy that he was a member of that Government and did not, as far as I can recall, raise objections at the time to the Act’s provisions.

We cannot breach the Act, and we will not allow foreign nationals who are convicted of the most serious offences, including rape and child sexual abuse, to remain in Britain. Tomorrow’s flight is about keeping the public safe, and it cannot and should not be conflated with the wrongs suffered by the Windrush generation.