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Volume 645: debated on Thursday 19 July 2018

I am today publishing a consultation paper on the design of a compensation scheme that will help to right the wrongs suffered by those of the Windrush generation who have faced difficulties and suffered losses as a result of measures that are in place to tackle illegal immigration [Cm 9654].

I have been very clear both that the Government deeply regret what has happened to some of the Windrush generation and that we are determined to put it right. A series of measures are in place to help achieve this. We are supporting those affected directly to gain confirmation of their immigration status. The Windrush taskforce, established in April, has provided documentation to over 2,000 people to demonstrate their right to live in the UK. We are conducting a lessons learned review, with independent oversight and challenge, to look at what happened and what the Home Office can do to ensure that it acts differently in future. Today I am also fulfilling the commitment to publish the terms of reference and methodology for that review by the summer recess and a copy of each will be placed in the Library of the House. The review aims to complete its findings by the end of March 2019 and I can confirm that the findings from the review will be published.

We also committed to establish a compensation scheme for those who have suffered loss as a result of these difficulties. On 10 May I launched a call for evidence, to help us understand what went wrong, when and the effects it has had on people’s lives. That closed on 8 June and we received over 650 responses. I have been moved by the stories people have told. There has been genuine suffering, which should never have happened. I am also inspired by the way many of the respondents moved halfway round the world to help rebuild the UK, and established their homes and lives here. It is also clear from these stories that these are strong communities which support each other and contribute significantly to the life and prosperity of the UK.

I want to move quickly, but carefully, from this initial call for evidence to the next stage. Based on the call for evidence and the independent advice we are receiving from Martin Forde QC, we have designed a consultation exercise to help us build and set up a compensation scheme. We are suggesting the scheme should be open to anyone who would be eligible for assistance of any type under the existing Windrush scheme being operated by the taskforce, and we are consulting on the types of losses and impacts that we should compensate for.

We received representations to extend the initial call for evidence and therefore I am keen to ensure that the consultation exercise is thorough and allows sufficient opportunity for everyone who wants to respond to do so. The consultation will last 12 weeks, closing on 11 October 2018. We are encouraging responses from a wide range of people, but particularly the communities affected. I am working with the Caribbean high commissioners to ensure the consultation reaches the right people abroad. The consultation document will be accessible online and offline. My officials will promote the consultation using appropriate media channels including social media. Throughout the consultation period we will engage with key stakeholders and community organisations to encourage responses, providing copies of the document and guidance for it to be completed, along with the offer of dedicated events with Home Office staff within community groups to facilitate responses. The independent adviser to the scheme, Martin Forde QC, will be talking directly to individuals affected and their representatives, as well as community leaders.

Following the consultation my priority will be to establish a scheme which will pay appropriate compensation as soon as possible. In the meantime, we will continue to offer people direct support to establish their immigration status.