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My Lords, I, too, thank the Minister for repeating the Statement. This is a shameful episode in our country’s history, where those who came here to help the UK were wrongly denied the right to remain. I pay tribute to my noble friend Lady Benjamin for her tireless and successful campaign for a Windrush Day. It is sad that this scandal casts a shadow over what is meant to be a celebration of everything the Windrush generation and their descendants have contributed to the UK. It is difficult to see how the wrongs of unlawful deportation, where some of those affected have died in poverty overseas, can be made right. Rather than accepting claims from the estate of those who have passed away and from close family members, will the Government’s approach those affected and proactively offer compensation?
While the Government await the results of Wendy Williams’ review, there are some things that they could and should do now. They need to address the ongoing “hostile environment” created by such measures as the right to rent scheme. As Liberal Democrats, we argued when the scheme was being discussed in this House that, as a recent High Court case has found, forcing landlords to carry out immigration checks on potential tenants is likely to be discriminatory, not just against immigrants but against black and minority ethnic Britons. Why are the Government appealing against that finding when they say that they are dismantling the hostile environment?
Can the Minister also explain why Windrush generation individuals who received settled status without being given the ability to prove it are now being asked to prove that they are of “good character” and that, if they fail to do so, they could be refused right of abode, settlement or citizenship? On page 14 of 19, the Windrush scheme application form states:
“Please give any other information which will help us decide whether you are of good character. Please use an additional sheet if necessary”.
I thought those who had a right of abode in the UK would automatically be given the right to remain. Perhaps the Minister can explain what is going on.
The Government accept that the roots of the Windrush scandal lie in a policy that saw people receive settled status without giving them the ability to prove it. Will they therefore accept the Liberal Democrat amendments to the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill currently before the other place, so that EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members who are granted settled or pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme are provided with physical documented proof of that status, so that they can prove it?
A compensation scheme is one thing. Government action to prove they have learned lessons is quite another.