My Lords, the public consultation on the Windrush compensation scheme runs until
I am grateful to my noble friend the Minister for her reply. Does she agree that justice for those damaged by the Windrush scandal, as well as the urgent need to restore public trust in the Home Office, require that Sir Alex Allan’s report be published without further delay? It is always cover-up that causes the most harm, and full disclosure is now required. My right honourable friend Amber Rudd resigned as a result of what took place. If there is any sense that the Civil Service is closing ranks to protect its own, there could be a serious loss of public confidence.
My noble friend makes two very good points, the first being about justice being seen to be served for the Windrush generation, to which my right honourable friend the Home Secretary is utterly committed. To that end, he has asked Wendy Williams to conduct a review and report back by March. I agree with my noble friend, too, that clarity for both our elected officials and unelected officials gives the public confidence in Parliament. The Prime Minister said earlier today:
“I reassure my right hon. Friend that the Home Secretary has been looking at this issue, and the Cabinet Secretary is looking at this. We are committed to publication, but the form of that is currently being considered”.
My Lords, the action of the Home Office in relation to the Windrush generation may be welcome, but how many others who were legally in this country but without documentation from areas other than the Caribbean have been similarly wrongly deported or deprived of the means to live in this country? What assurance can the Minister give that the appalling treatment of the Windrush generation has not been repeated in relation to others?
The noble Lord makes a point that he has made before, and it is a very good one. Certainly, the review being carried out by Wendy Williams will teach us some lessons for the future to ensure that this never happens again. In addition, as I think I mentioned the other day, this issue makes clear the importance now of identity assurance.
My Lords, I cannot second-guess the thinking behind some of the decision-making, but it might be to protect some people’s names. However, as I have just said, the Prime Minister has committed to publication, whether in a redacted form or not.
My Lords, on the compensation scheme that is out for consultation, has the Home Office considered emergency payments to those who have been treated wrongfully and unfairly? I am thinking particularly of those in hardship.
The noble Lord brings this up again and it is an important point, because we have heard anecdotal evidence of hardship. The Home Secretary recognises that. His immediate priority has been to help some of those affected to establish their immigration status but also to support people in advance of the compensation scheme being put in place. Where there is an immediate need—he outlined such a case to me the other day—we are supporting people to access housing and benefits and deal with immediate problems while removing immigration obstacles to their finding work. In addition, the noble Lord might want to know that we have signed an agreement with Citizens Advice, which can provide some of the professional bespoke advice that people might need.
My Lords, I declare an interest as the son of an Admiralty civil servant. I do not believe for a second that this disaster can be put at the door of civil servants. It lies elsewhere. Generally, civil servants perform in an admirable and loyal way and do as they are told by their political masters.