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Volume 643: debated on Thursday 21 June 2018

Tomorrow, Friday 22 June, will mark the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush to the UK carrying passengers from various islands across the Caribbean. The Windrush generation arrived in response to Britain’s invitation to help rebuild the country after the second world war. The Government value the contribution made to the UK by the Windrush generation and we are committed to do right by those who have faced difficulties in demonstrating their status under the immigration system.

I am leading a series of measures across my Department to help put things right. This includes launching a compensation scheme as quickly and as carefully as possible, to help redress what has gone wrong. The call for evidence for the scheme is now complete, and this has given individuals and community groups the opportunity to share their stories and experiences. A public consultation on the design of the compensation scheme will be opened in due course. We will be announcing details of the final scheme and how to apply as soon as possible after the public consultation has ended.

More widely, it is crucial for the Government to learn from what happened, and it is especially important to do so now. To do this we need to understand more about what happened, why it was not stopped sooner, and how we can ensure that it does not happen again. I have already announced that a thorough lessons learned review is under way within the Department to undertake this incredibly important task. In particular, the review will consider:

how members of the Windrush generation came to be entangled in measures designed for illegal immigrants;

why that was not spotted sooner; and

whether corrective measures are now in place.

I have said from the outset that the lessons learned review needs to have independent oversight to make sure that it is done properly. I am pleased to announce today that I have appointed Wendy Williams to this role. Currently one of Her Majesty’s inspectors of constabulary, Wendy brings a wealth of experience, including through her legal background. She was formerly the chief Crown prosecutor for Northumbria and the north-east region. As an HM inspector of constabulary, she has substantial experience of the independent, rigorous and objective assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of the operations of public bodies, in the public interest. I am confident that she will bring those essential characteristics, as well as integrity to the review.

The review will take time to do properly. The terms of reference and methodology for the review will be made available to the House before the summer recess.