Scheduled Mass Deportation: Jamaica

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:33 pm on 30th November 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Holly Lynch Holly Lynch Shadow Minister (Home Office) 3:33 pm, 30th November 2020

I first pay tribute to my hon. Friend Bell Ribeiro-Addy for having secured such an important and time-critical urgent question. I also pay tribute to my right hon. Friend Mr Lammy for his previous work and advocacy in this important area.

The news of this flight comes just days after the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that the Government, as we have heard, acted unlawfully in their treatment of the Windrush generation through the hostile environment. As Caroline Waters, the chair of the EHRC, said,

“The treatment of the Windrush generation as a result of hostile environment policies was a shameful stain on British history.”

There is no clear timetable for implementing the recommendations of the Wendy Williams report, and with just 12% of applicants having received a payment and at least nine people having died waiting, the Windrush compensation scheme is failing badly. In his written response to me over the weekend, the Minister said that it is wrong and offensive to conflate this returns flight with the Windrush scandal, but I am afraid that given this Government’s track record, their failings on Windrush and the delays in the compensation scheme, we simply have no faith that this Government have done their due diligence in relation to those on this scheduled flight, and we would not be doing ours if we did not ask the questions.

Of course, we recognise that those who engage in violent and criminal acts must face justice. However, we also hear that at least one person on that flight has a Windrush generation grandfather; there is another whose great-aunt was on the HMT Windrush, and another whose grandfather fought in the second world war for Britain. It is clear that we have not yet established just how far the consequences of the Windrush injustice extend. With that in mind, what assessment has been made to ensure that none of those scheduled to be on the flight are eligible under the Windrush scheme, or have been affected by the wider immigration injustices that impacted the victims of the Windrush scandal? What assurances can the Minister provide the House that the mandatory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children left behind, who are innocent in this, has been considered?

It has also been reported that the Home Office has reached an agreement with the Jamaican Government that people who left Jamaica as children will no longer be repatriated. Can the Minister confirm whether this is the case, and can he also confirm what age someone would need to be to have been determined to be a child?