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Expenditure on the Windrush Compensation Scheme

Part of Windrush Compensation Scheme (Expenditure) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:00 pm on 24th March 2020.

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Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 6:00 pm, 24th March 2020

I thank Ms Abbott and Stuart C. McDonald for their constructive speeches and thoughts. As the shadow Home Secretary just reflected, we are talking about people—particularly those who came here before 1973—who are British. They are British, they viewed themselves as British, and then they had a reminder of some of the prejudices they experienced when they first arrived. The scheme is not about granting people citizenship but confirming the status they always had. When we debate this issue, we always need to make the point that we are not granting them citizenship; they had it and have done for nearly 50 years.

I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss the amendments and new clauses, which I will go through in turn. I hope to give clear assurances to the Members who tabled them on some of the issues raised and how they formed part of our thinking during the development of the compensation scheme. I will start with those tabled by the Scottish National party before turning to the official Opposition. Amendment 1 would pave the way for the new clauses that would modify the Windrush compensation scheme before final payments are made. I also recognise that amendment 2 intends not to prevent any interim payments from being made. It has always been our priority to ensure that payments are made as quickly as possible rather than only at the final resolution of a case.

New clause 1 would move the operation of the Windrush compensation scheme out of the Home Office. I understand hon. Members’ well articulated concerns about the Department that caused the issues facing these individuals deciding on their eligibility to receive compensation. The Home Office is determined to learn the lessons and right the wrongs experienced by the Windrush generation. I reassure the hon. Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East that the compensation team is working hard to ensure that people get the compensation they deserve. As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said to the House last week, we will continue to do everything possible to ensure that the Home Office protects, supports and listens to every single part of the community it serves.

I also noted the request for a substantive debate on the lessons learned review. If I recall correctly, when the Home Secretary was at the Dispatch Box last week, she indicated that we would almost certainly look to do that at future moment when we are not constrained by the circumstances around this debate.