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Windrush Generation: Compensation

Volume 655: debated on Monday 25 February 2019

Successive Governments have failed the Windrush generation, but it remains this Government’s priority to put those wrongs right. On 8 February, I issued a written ministerial statement to inform the House that the Government response to the Windrush compensation scheme consultation will set out the details of the scheme along with accompanying guidance and rules. The response will be published shortly.

When the Home Secretary was appointed he told this House that it was his first priority to help those affected by the Windrush situation. That was in July last year—over seven months ago. The consultation ended on 16 November, but he still cannot—or will not—tell us when the final details of the scheme will be announced. If this is how he treats his first priority, I would hate to think how he treats the others. When can my constituents expect the compensation they so desperately need and deserve?

It remains a first priority, which is why since I have been appointed we have helped more than 2,000 people through the Windrush taskforce; created the Windrush scheme; helped almost 3,500 people to apply for citizenship; waived thousands of pounds in costs; and set up an urgent assistance programme for exceptional cases. The hon. Lady is right to raise the compensation scheme. It is hugely important that we do it properly and get it right. That is why we have held a consultation, with an independent reviewer, to make sure that we look at all the issues and it is done properly.

Since our urgent question, the Jamaican commissioner has joined calls from across the House to halt deportation flights to Jamaica. After Windrush, where we know that hundreds of people were wrongfully deported or detained, this Government cannot be trusted to follow the correct process. What is their plan for future deportation flights, and will the Home Secretary suspend them until the lessons of Windrush have been learned?

As the hon. Gentleman will know, this issue has been discussed in the House. He refers to the charter flight to Jamaica on 6 February. On that flight were 29 foreign national offenders, all convicted of serious crimes. He will know that in each of those cases—as I said, they were all foreign national offenders—we took extra care to ensure that none were subject to the Windrush scheme. Every single one arrived after 1 January 1973 and there is no evidence to indicate that any had been here before that date. He will know that, under a law passed by a previous Labour Government, the Home Secretary is mandated by law to issue a deportation order for anyone who is given a sentence of more than one year. Surely he is not asking me to break the law.