Emma Reynolds debates involving the Home Office during the 2017-2019 Parliament

Tue 9th Apr 2019
Tue 4th Sep 2018
Windrush
Commons Chamber
(Urgent Question)
Mon 9th Jul 2018
Stalking Protection Bill (First sitting)
Public Bill Committees

Committee Debate: House of Commons & Committee: 1st sitting: House of Commons
Wed 2nd May 2018
Mon 23rd Apr 2018
Mon 16th Apr 2018

Windrush Compensation Scheme

Emma Reynolds Excerpts
Tuesday 9th April 2019

(5 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Urgent Questions are proposed each morning by backbench MPs, and up to two may be selected each day by the Speaker. Chosen Urgent Questions are announced 30 minutes before Parliament sits each day.

Each Urgent Question requires a Government Minister to give a response on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Caroline Nokes Portrait Caroline Nokes
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We have sought to have a scheme that is based on both tariffs and actuals, so that those who cannot provide evidence will be able to go down the tariffs route and not be expected to provide the evidence that those going down the actuals route would be able to provide. As I have already said, the Home Office wants to work with claimants to ensure that where evidence can be found—either from within Home Office records or from other Government Departments—we do exactly that, so that people are supported to get the compensation to which they are entitled.

Emma Reynolds Portrait Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) (Lab)
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Detaining innocent people and threatening them with deportation is not only wholly unacceptable; it is dehumanising. The treatment suffered by my constituent, Paulette Wilson, was absolutely appalling. Why did the Government not come clean about these caps last week when we were in the Chamber questioning the Home Secretary? And how on earth did the Government come up with the figure of £500 per 24-hour period for the first 30 days of detention and £300 per 24-hour period for the subsequent 60 days? How were these amounts arrived at?

Caroline Nokes Portrait Caroline Nokes
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As I am sure the hon. Lady will have heard me say, the amounts were arrived at in consultation with our independent adviser, Martin Forde, and by looking at both the ex gratia scheme that was already in place at the Home Office and at case law. She is right to say that detention is absolutely wrong for those who have no reason to find themselves in that situation. I have apologised to her constituent, Paulette Wilson. One can only hang one’s head in shame at the way in which the Home Office treated not just Paulette Wilson, but too many individuals of the Windrush generation. We are still ashamed of what happened and are desperately trying to put things right via this scheme.

Windrush Compensation Scheme

Emma Reynolds Excerpts
Wednesday 3rd April 2019

(5 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid
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We want to make sure that no one is left out. We have, for reasons I have previously explained in the House, focused on those of Caribbean origin, but that process of trying to find those who may have been wronged continues.

Emma Reynolds Portrait Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) (Lab)
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Will the compensation scheme cover the huge distress caused to those such as my constituent Paulette Wilson? She was detained at Yarl’s Wood and then Heathrow detention centre, and she was very nearly deported back to a country she had not been to since the age of 10.

Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid
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One category we have also included in the compensation is a discretionary category, because we are well aware that, although we can identify some of the most likely detriments to compensate, there may be some exceptional cases, and I want to make sure that nothing is left out by the compensation scheme.

Leaving the EU: Rights of EU Citizens

Emma Reynolds Excerpts
Monday 5th November 2018

(5 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Caroline Nokes Portrait Caroline Nokes
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One of the most important parts of that guarantee is to demonstrate that we are already putting EU citizens through the settled status scheme. We have opened it up to a much larger cohort and, between now and the end of the year, in the region of 250,000 to 350,000 people will be eligible to go through the scheme. I should say that I do not anticipate our hitting that level of numbers, but we will be able to test the scheme at an enormous scale. It is important that we have made that commitment and we want EU citizens to stay.

Emma Reynolds Portrait Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) (Lab)
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The Home Secretary said yesterday that even in the event of no deal, employers will not be expected to differentiate between resident EU citizens and those who arrive after Brexit. Will the Minister therefore confirm that free movement will not end on 30 March next year?

Caroline Nokes Portrait Caroline Nokes
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As I have said previously, right-to-work checks have to be carried out now for EU citizens and, indeed, for British nationals when they move to a new job. It is important that we set out the timetable for ending free movement, and the Prime Minister has been clear that we are going to do just that.

Oral Answers to Questions

Emma Reynolds Excerpts
Monday 29th October 2018

(5 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid
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I can give my hon. Friend that assurance, and that was one reason why we recently launched a pilot for a seasonal workers agricultural scheme for 2019.

Emma Reynolds Portrait Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) (Lab)
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T5. In the west midlands we have lost over 2,000 police officers and violent crime is on the rise. Will the Home Secretary look again at funding for West Midlands police and reverse the imposition of extra pension costs?

Nick Hurd Portrait Mr Hurd
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I am sure that the hon. Lady is aware that West Midlands received more funding this year— £9.9 million—in a police funding settlement that she voted against. I will be coming to the House in early December with our proposals for 2019-20.

Windrush

Emma Reynolds Excerpts
Tuesday 4th September 2018

(5 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Urgent Questions are proposed each morning by backbench MPs, and up to two may be selected each day by the Speaker. Chosen Urgent Questions are announced 30 minutes before Parliament sits each day.

Each Urgent Question requires a Government Minister to give a response on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Caroline Nokes Portrait Caroline Nokes
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As the hon. Lady will have heard me say, the Home Secretary has already reached out to individuals impacted and the families of those who have passed away to offer his personal apology. They will of course be entitled to apply to the compensation scheme when that is open.

Emma Reynolds Portrait Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) (Lab)
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The Minister is aware of a constituent of mine, Paulette Wilson, a 62-year-old grandmother who came here more than 50 years ago from Jamaica and who was detained at Yarl’s Wood and Heathrow detention centre last year and nearly deported back to Jamaica. I ask my question on behalf of her and all those in a similar situation. I heard what the Minister said about the compensation scheme and the consultation, but can she give a commitment to the House today that the scheme will be operational some time next year so that Paulette and others can be properly compensated?

Caroline Nokes Portrait Caroline Nokes
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I would like to reassure the hon. Lady on this point. Her constituent’s case was one of those clearly highlighted, of course, and I was pleased that I was able to offer my personal apology to Paulette Wilson. It is imperative that we get the compensation scheme up and running as soon as possible, and I am determined to do that.

Stalking Protection Bill (First sitting)

Emma Reynolds Excerpts
Committee Debate: House of Commons & Committee: 1st sitting: House of Commons
Monday 9th July 2018

(6 years ago)

Public Bill Committees
Read Full debate Stalking Protection Act 2019 View all Stalking Protection Act 2019 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: Public Bill Committee Amendments as at 9 July 2018 - (9 Jul 2018)
Sarah Wollaston Portrait Dr Wollaston
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I thank my hon. Friend for the extraordinary work that he has undertaken on behalf of victims of stalking. He is right to draw attention to that matter. Orders could be made on the balance of probability, but breach of an order would be a criminal offence. That is the important distinction, and I know that he welcomes those arrangements.

As I mentioned, clause 1 includes no requirement for orders to be made on conviction—an important distinction —or for the behaviour giving grounds for the application to have met the criminal threshold. That is what my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham was pointing out, and it is because stalking protection orders are designed specifically to permit early intervention when the criminal threshold has not yet been met but where it is known that there is a serious risk of harm as a result of stalking. If the police are gathering evidence and preparing a criminal case for court—for example if they are pursuing a stalking conviction—that takes time. The orders are not intended to replace such prosecutions. They can protect victims at the earliest possible opportunity and also are a way of stepping in to address the perpetrator’s behaviour before it progresses into an obsessive campaign. Breaking the cycle is much more difficult if the behaviour is allowed to continue for longer.

To address the behaviour in question effectively, orders would make it possible to impose prohibitions and positive requirements on the perpetrator. Clause 1 would allow the police to propose to the court a bespoke intervention to protect the victim from harm but also, crucially, address the perpetrator’s behaviour. Requirements to be imposed on a perpetrator by orders include notification requirements similar to those for registered sex offenders. Those are provided for in clause 9 and would help ensure that the police had the right information at the right time to manage the risk posed by perpetrators effectively. A perpetrator who did not comply with the conditions of a stalking protection order would face a criminal penalty for breach under clause 8, with a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment.

Finally, clause 12 makes provision for the Government to issue statutory guidance to the police on the use of the orders. That will be developed in collaboration with criminal justice partners and sector experts and will help ensure that the police have the knowledge, understanding and confidence to use stalking protection orders to their full potential. It is only right to acknowledge that a new stalking protection order will not in itself deliver a better response to stalking; that will require an improved awareness of stalking on the part of all professionals working in that space, and a continued focus on improving the criminal justice response through the provision of high-quality training, guidance and professional development.

Other measures, beyond the scope of the Bill, were suggested on Second Reading. One was a stalking register. I know that the Government are committed to looking at wider options to improve the response to stalking, and to linking those considerations to wider work on supporting vulnerable victims. However, it is important to note that the notification requirements that could be imposed on a perpetrator under clause 9 are similar to those that can be imposed on registered sex offenders. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s thoughts on that point.

I am sure that Committee members will agree that any further changes with respect to stalking should be introduced following rigorous and comprehensive consultation. That brings me to the reason I tabled an amendment to change the long title of the Bill: to ensure that it better reflects its content, which is limited to stalking protection orders and related matters. It is a minor, technical amendment that I hope provides neatness and clarity and will smooth the Bill’s passage through Parliament.

I hope that I have made clear how the Bill provides the police with a welcome additional tool, the purpose of which is to protect victims of stalking and deter perpetrators at the earliest possible opportunity, even before the stage is reached at which a prosecution could commence, or to put in place protection while evidence for a prosecution is being gathered. It is imperative that we are able to provide effective support for victims of this devastating crime.

Emma Reynolds Portrait Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) (Lab)
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I congratulate the hon. Lady on introducing the legislation. Will she explain in more detail the provision for interim stalking protection orders in the Bill?

Sarah Wollaston Portrait Dr Wollaston
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I thank the hon. Lady for asking about that. It can take time to bring together all the evidence needed for a full stalking protection order, but we all recognise that time is of the essence—I am sure we have all heard compelling evidence of serious harm ensuing. The point is to bring forward an interim order at the earliest possible opportunity, not to replace either a full stalking protection order or the pursuit of a stalking conviction where possible, but to ensure that we recognise that time is of the essence. In the most serious cases we would expect the police to use their existing powers regarding pre-charge bail conditions. I hope that answers the hon. Lady’s question.

I hope that Members will give their full support to the Bill and I welcome the cross-party support and constructive debate.

Windrush

Emma Reynolds Excerpts
Wednesday 2nd May 2018

(6 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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David Lammy Portrait Mr Lammy
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I will not.

Windrush citizens being abused, spat on and assaulted in the street but never once fighting back was a compliant environment. Black Britons being racially abused at work but never speaking up because they need to put food on the table know all about a compliant environment. Turning the other cheek when the National Front were marching through our streets was a compliant environment. Young black men being stopped and searched by the police, despite committing no crime and living in fear of the police, know what it is like to be in a compliant environment. And thank God that Doreen Lawrence defied that compliant environment.

Emma Reynolds Portrait Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) (Lab)
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As my right hon. Friend says, the terminology does not help. Does he agree that we also need a change of policy to get to the root causes of why this happened in the first place and to prevent it from happening again?

David Lammy Portrait Mr Lammy
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My hon. Friend is exactly right.

I want to make it absolutely clear that it is my view that this belief about a compliant environment goes all the way back to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. This Parliament provided compensation, worth £17 billion today and paid for by the British taxpayer, to the 46,000 British slave owners for the loss of their property. The slaves got nothing. And now their descendants are being shackled and chained, dragged on to deportation flights and sent back across the same ocean that Britain took their ancestors from in slave ships centuries ago.

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Emma Reynolds Portrait Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) (Lab)
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The Windrush generation came to our country in the post-war period to help to rebuild Britain. They have made our nation great, and they are part of us. They are British citizens regardless of whether or not they have the paperwork to prove so.

I first became aware of the appalling and inhumane treatment of the Windrush generation last October, when my constituent Paulette Wilson was detained at Yarl’s Wood and then taken to Heathrow detention centre, before being released at the 11th hour, after I had intervened, as had the Refugee and Migrant Centre in Wolverhampton. Paulette believed she was going to be put on a plane to Jamaica—a country she had not been to for 50 years, since she was 10 years old.

Paulette has worked all of her life in the UK, including serving food to Members of Parliament in this place, and she has paid 34 years of national insurance contributions. She has raised a daughter, and she now has a granddaughter. For weeks after her release, she found it difficult to sleep or eat. I want to press the Government on the compensation scheme. I know that they have to be careful and that it has to be got right, but I hope that they will bring it forward quickly and that she is properly compensated.

It pains me that it has taken so long for this scandal to come to light. Why did it take the detention of my constituent and the appalling treatment of many others—they thought they were isolated cases until somebody linked them together—as well as the work and determination of my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy), the intervention of the Church of England bishops, the pressure from several Caribbean high commissioners and Heads of Government, and the work of a dedicated journalist at The Guardian to join up the dots?

The Home Secretary today announced an internal review into what went wrong. If that is to be meaningful, it must identify the root causes of this scandal. This is not about scoring party political points, but about focusing on preventing this from ever happening again and on rebuilding trust not only with the Windrush generation but with others who have come from the Commonwealth over the years and the EU migrants who have come more recently. I hope—I sincerely hope—that the Government will be honest and open about why what happened to Paulette took place, and why so many others have also been caught up.

I have heard some Government Members describe this as an administrative oversight, but I do not believe that to be the case. If it were just an error, why did it happen to so many different people in different parts of the UK? Others have tried to blame civil servants, as if what Ministers do and say has no bearing on their Department. The truth is that Ministers make policy and civil servants are there to carry out their policies. Ministers set targets and expect civil servants to deliver on those targets.

We have to look closely at the hostile environment policy introduced by the Prime Minister when she was Home Secretary. This included making landlords, doctors and employers unwilling border guards, setting an unrealistic net migration target of getting immigration down to the tens of thousands and removing legal aid and the right of appeal on NTL—no time limit—applications.

We have recently learned that there have been internal regional targets for removal. The former Home Secretary denied their existence, and said to my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) and members of the Home Affairs Committee:

“that’s not how we operate”.

We now know that she was wrong about the existence of such targets—they do exist—but what she said about not operating in that way was absolutely right. It is absurd and immoral to have removal targets for migrants. It has fostered a culture of disbelief and of treating people as numbers, not human beings.

We need an honest appraisal of what went wrong, to prevent this from happening again and to have any chance of building a fair and humane immigration policy, as the Home Secretary declared he wants to build. Let us learn the lessons, and let us make sure that our immigration policy is in line with British values and the country in which we live.

Minors Entering the UK: 1948 to 1971

Emma Reynolds Excerpts
Monday 30th April 2018

(6 years, 2 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Steve Double Portrait Steve Double
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I will make a bit more progress.

It is almost 50 years since the Empire Windrush docked at the port of Tilbury on 22 June 1948. It brought with it the hopes and dreams of more than 500 passengers from the British West Indies who had just been given citizenship of the United Kingdom and colonies under the British Nationality Act 1948. Advertisements appeared in local newspapers in Jamaica offering cheap transport for anyone who wanted to make a living in the UK. Among that group of British subjects, nearly half were former servicemen who wanted to return to the nation they were enlisted to fight for during the war, while others were simply attracted to the better opportunities offered by what they affectionately and proudly called the mother country.

The arrival of the Windrush passengers marked the beginning of a multicultural, modern Britain. In the following decades, thousands from the Caribbean and other Commonwealth countries followed in their footsteps. Together, they became known as the Windrush generation. Most intended to stay for a few years, save some money and return to the West Indies. However, as time passed, the majority decided to remain and make this country their home. They married, raised families and built their lives here.

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Emma Reynolds Portrait Emma Reynolds
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rose

Steve Double Portrait Steve Double
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I will make a bit more progress, then take another intervention.

Life for the Windrush generation was often tough, but this was the generation that worked hard to overcome the many social, economic and cultural challenges of post-war Britain. I want to be clear: the Windrush generation are people who responded to our invitation to come to this country as British subjects, to help us rebuild our country in the years after the war. They are not economic migrants or asylum seekers. Theirs was the generation that helped us build the NHS. They were the people who contributed to Britain’s re-emergence as one of the most prosperous nations in post-war Europe. Indeed, they also played a role in shaping modern Britain, by making us one of the most vibrant and multicultural nations in the world.

It is therefore totally shocking to hear about the treatment of some of the Windrush generation. It is appalling that some of them have been refused access to NHS services, have lost their job, or have even been threatened with deportation. I want to draw attention to the language of the petition that we are debating today. It asks for amnesty for the Windrush generation children. Amnesty is granted to someone who has been found guilty of breaking the law. In the context of the issue before us today, that would imply that the people in question are illegal immigrants. I recognise the intention of the petition but I want to make the important point that those people do not require amnesty: they already have the right to remain here.

Emma Reynolds Portrait Emma Reynolds
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The hon. Gentleman is right that we must learn the lessons of what happened. However, my constituent, Paulette Wilson, was detained in October. She has been here for 50 years; she worked in the UK. She worked in Parliament, serving MPs. What she, her family and I want to know is why it took her detention, and the appalling treatment of others, for the scandal to come to light.

Steve Double Portrait Steve Double
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The hon. Lady makes a very good point and I shall go on to address it. I will just say that on this occasion the Home Office has been too slow to respond. There were warning signs about it and more should have been done sooner. I do not think anyone is arguing anything other than that mistakes have been made that have been deeply damaging to some people’s lives, that it should not have happened, and that we must put it right and make sure it never happens again.

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Lyn Brown Portrait Lyn Brown
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I certainly will, and I thank my right hon. Friend for that intervention.

Cecil and Lucy really believed that they could make this country a home, and that it would be fit for their children and their grandchildren, and they did make it a home for them. They thought that they had secured for themselves and their children a place that was warm and welcoming. However, I assure Members that their family are angry now, because the contract they had with this country has been broken by this careless, callous Government. Their faith in this country has been crushed. They, their children and their grandchildren feel betrayed.

It is not just my family who are angered by that betrayal; many of my constituents, whether they have family among the Windrush generation or not, believe that this Prime Minister’s policies have betrayed a generation of their friends, neighbours and families.

I do not know how many of my constituents have been caught up in the Home Office’s “hostile” immigration strategy, because many people have not made their way to my door yet. However, I urge them to do so, so that I can help them sort this situation out.

One man, who I will call Gem, contacted me early last year. Gem travelled from Jamaica in 1969 and has lived here legally ever since. However, in August last year his housing benefit suddenly stopped, on the basis that he

“had no recourse to public funds.”

That was certainly news to him.

Gem has not kept hold of every official document that has come through his door for the last several decades, so when the Home Office demanded evidence for every single year that he had lived here he was understandably devastated and overwhelmed. I do not think many of us could produce that much evidence on demand; I certainly could not.

Gem was told that he would have to secure a new passport from Jamaica, at great expense and at a time when he was unable to work. The £2,500 fee for naturalisation was well out of the question. He now faces eviction, due to rent arrears, and he tells me that he has to report regularly to the immigration centre, as if he was a criminal. A few days ago, Gem’s daughter called the new hotline, but she is still waiting to be called back. I have contacted the Immigration Minister on Gem’s behalf and I will be happy to give her his details after this debate.

Gem is not the only constituent of mine who has been harmed by this “hostile” environment. Jessica travelled to Britain in 1970 from Dominica. She is 58 now but still remembers an immigration officer stamping her passport with the words, “Indefinite right to remain”. She grew up in this country, and she has worked and paid taxes here for the last 39 years. Last month, however, she was fired from her job with a local charity that supports migrants and refugees, on the basis that she could not prove her right to work in the UK. It is a bitter irony that someone who has worked to help those at risk because of immigration policies has now fallen victim to those policies herself. Jessica said:

“I have always been a positive person, but this is a terrible situation.”

I do not think that anybody could have failed to notice the oft-repeated use by the former Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Hastings and Rye (Amber Rudd), of the phrase “compliant environment” last week. However, as my hon. Friend the Member for Garston and Halewood (Maria Eagle) said:

“Whether it’s compliance or hostility, it’s still a policy which has led to this debacle”.—[Official Report, 23 April 2018; Vol. 639, c. 633.]

Gem and Jessica will receive absolutely no comfort if I tell them that, although they have lost nearly everything, the Government did not mean to be “hostile”. That is cold comfort, because let us be in no doubt that this scandal is leaving a legacy of fear and anxiety among the communities and individuals that it has betrayed.

Nevertheless, I welcome the Government’s pledges to waive fees for members of the Windrush generation as they apply for documents and rightful naturalisation, and to scrap the requirement for a citizenship test, as well as the free services that they have created for the victims. Those were absolutely the right things to do, but the problem stems from the policy itself. The “hostile environment” has been hardened over time, in the service of an arbitrary target. That is hardly the way to encourage careful evaluation of an individual’s rights.

The canned response that we keep hearing from the Government is that the Windrush generation are different, or an exception. We know the phrase, “the exception proves the rule”, and there are already new cases coming to light of British citizens from other backgrounds who have been caught up by this Government’s approach. So how many exceptions will it take before the rule is changed? Will cases that do not appear to be Windrush related need to make their own headlines before they are recognised? If so, that is not only nonsensical, but cruel.

The right to appeal through an immigration tribunal was scrapped, for most cases, by 2014. When, on top of that, there is no longer recourse to legal aid, the inevitable wrong decisions are so much harder to challenge. I hope that the new Home Secretary will fix this matter urgently, although I do not hold my breath.

“Regret”, no matter how bitter or heartfelt, cannot take the place of a substantial policy change. It is simply not good enough to redress the consequences each time after the fact. Policy change is the only way to prevent this situation from happening again, but even that will not undo the damage that has already been done; that pain will never go away. The petition that we are considering rightly calls on the Government to take into account “loss & hurt”. The “loss” of a job, of benefits, of medical treatment, of pensions, or of citizenship can be measured.

Emma Reynolds Portrait Emma Reynolds
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Does my hon. Friend hope, as I do, that the compensation scheme will be put in place sooner rather than later, because some people have been detained, some have been deprived of healthcare and some have been deprived of benefits, and they have also all gone through terrible anguish during the time that this scandal has been going on?

Lyn Brown Portrait Lyn Brown
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My hon. Friend is, of course, obviously right, because we can—possibly—put a financial value on the financial “loss” incurred by loss of jobs, benefits and so on, but the “hurt”—that is, the loss of faith and the impact of the deep betrayal—is much more complex and much more difficult to assess in monetary terms, so I ask the Minister to ensure that whoever is appointed to run the compensation scheme is encouraged to think long and hard about the lifetime impact of these losses.

The Windrush generation undoubtedly made a huge contribution to rebuilding our country; many of them also fought in the war. They came at the Government’s invitation, stayed at the Government’s invitation and worked year after year after year, because they were needed, so there is a real stench of betrayal about these recent events.

I am lucky—so lucky—that I have an amazing family. I have not only Cecil and Lucy, who have done so much for this country, but their children, including my brother-in-law, Colin, who I love to bits, and his daughter, my niece Aimee, who I love more than life itself.

My family have been lucky not to fall victim to the changed immigration laws, but, make no mistake, we are very angry. We are furious. We need more from the Government. We need mistakes to be rectified quickly, with generous compensation, and we need less dangerous policies coming from the Government. It is now time for the Prime Minister, as the architect of the hostile environment policy, to take responsibility, because it is her policy and her watch, and it is for her to be held to account.

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Peter Bottomley Portrait Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) (Con)
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I am sorry I was not here for the beginning of the debate. I was taking part in questions in the Chamber, where a statement had been asked for. May I say to my brother, the right hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy), that I was honoured to be at his wedding? I have to declare that I stand as godfather to the aunt of his children. I am also proud to have known Sam King. Along with Arthur Torrington, he got the Windrush Foundation and the Equiano Society going 21 years ago. I may be fortunate that the people I know whom I would regard as being of the Windrush generation— I use that as a way of embracing a large number of people—have been bishops in my church and headteachers in my schools, and have held every kind of job across the spectrum of our society.

What we have found in this debate is too many people saying, “The other side did not get things right.” What we have lost is a sense of what each of us can do to try to ensure that we do get it right. Some of the lessons I have learned have come from a book by Will Somerville called “Immigration under New Labour”, published by Policy Press at the University of Bristol. It covers 1997 to 2007, so it is not the full period, but in chapters 16, 17 and 18 there is quite a lot of talk about targets. In the days when I served as a junior Minister and my wife served as a more senior Minister, people laughed at us because we would have between three and 11 boxes over a weekend. Various people said, “Why do you read what is put in front of you?” The answer is that we can find that voice among the public officials or the outsiders who say, “Please look at this. It is not sensible. It is not right.”

I was going to appear on “Newsnight” a few days ago, but I got bounced because the subject of the Windrush generation was seen as less important than the future retirement of the manager of Arsenal football club. To some people that may be the right sense of priorities, but it cost me an opportunity to talk about the many people affected by the way the system has worked—albeit for a minority, but that minority matters just as much as the majority. As most people now say, we should not be saying to people who have lived here at peace, paid taxes, registered to vote and contributed as British nationals, “You have to prove what you were doing for elements of your life for each year for the past 40 years.” I could not do that; why should they have to do it?

The presumption ought to be that if someone has obviously lived here for long enough to qualify as a recognised British national—as a subject, a citizen—they should not have to go find all these documents. We should say, “This person has been on the electoral register for the past 15 years. It is clear that they came out of a school. Here they are in a confirmation class. Here they are in Guides or Scouts. Here they are at a college or university, or in a recognised training situation, or even just as a taxpayer.”

The Inland Revenue knows who has been paying taxes. The Department for Work and Pensions knows who has been paying national insurance. If, on the face of it, that shows they have absolutely no chance of being an illegal immigrant who has come in during the past two or three years, they should be granted British citizenship formally, recognising what is formally right anyway.

I do not want to criticise the media, because we rely on them, but what on earth was that nonsense about the landing cards? British subjects did not complete landing cards. They did not do it. The fact that the landing cards were or might have been destroyed is irrelevant. That should have been obvious to anyone doing work experience at a newspaper, let alone someone working in one of our great news organisations, the Press Association or the BBC.

Emma Reynolds Portrait Emma Reynolds
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rose

Peter Bottomley Portrait Sir Peter Bottomley
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The hon. Ladies can sort out between themselves who I am giving way to.

Emma Reynolds Portrait Emma Reynolds
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The hon. Gentleman says the landing cards are irrelevant, but my constituent Paulette Wilson was sent a letter from the Home Office out of the blue in 2015. It told her that there was no evidence of her entry to the UK, despite the fact that it had destroyed that evidence.

Peter Bottomley Portrait Sir Peter Bottomley
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I give way again.

--- Later in debate ---
Emma Reynolds Portrait Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) (Lab)
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I want to thank Patrick Vernon, originally from Wolverhampton—all the best people are—for setting up the petition, and I want to say a huge thank you to the 178,000 people who signed it. I thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy) for his powerful advocacy and his incredible work and determination to seek justice for the Windrush generation.

Finally, I want to add my thanks to those of my colleagues to thank all those British people of the Windrush generation—whether they have the documents to say that they are British or not, they are British—for coming here in the post-war period and helping to rebuild Britain. My right hon. Friend was right to say that the way they have been treated is a national disgrace.

I want to talk specifically about my constituent, Paulette Wilson, one of the Windrush generation who has been treated by the Government in the most appalling and inhumane manner. We know that the Home Secretary resigned last night, but in my view that is not the end of the matter. The Government still have serious questions to answer about the way Paulette and others have been treated. Also, they have questions to answer about how we avoid that happening in future to the Windrush generation and other Commonwealth citizens, but also to EU citizens way into the future.

I still think that the Prime Minister has serious questions to answer about a raft of policies that she introduced as Home Secretary to create a hostile environment and to create the conditions for this awful scandal. Not only do we have to deal with tackling the injustice of the way the Windrush generation has been treated, but we have to look at the policies, too, and the Government need to change some of them.

My constituent, Paulette Wilson, came to the UK from Jamaica in 1968 at the age of 10. She has worked in the UK all her life and has never left the country. She even worked here in Parliament, serving and waiting on MPs in Commons restaurants. She received a letter from the Home Office out of the blue in August 2015. To her dismay, it accused her of having no evidence of being here legally and having no evidence of her entry to the UK. She started having to report to the immigration centre in Solihull. Two years later, despite the fact that she had gathered substantial evidence of her 50 years in the UK, including 34 years of paying national insurance and the fact that she has a grown-up daughter and a granddaughter, she was detained during one of her visits to the immigration centre.

Paulette spent a week in Yarl’s Wood, fearful of what was going to happen next. She became even more scared when she was taken to the detention centre at Heathrow. Let us imagine for a minute what it was like for her. Imagine ourselves in her shoes: you have lived and worked in the UK for 50 years and raised a family. You feel, and you are, British. You have not left the UK in all that time and you suddenly find yourself in a detention centre at Heathrow airport being told you are going to be put on a flight to Jamaica.

Paulette could hear planes taking off and she really thought she was going to be put on a plane. I intervened and so did the Refugee and Migrant Centre in Wolverhampton. Her family—reluctantly, because they are a private family—contacted the media. Paulette was released at the eleventh hour. I want to thank the Refugee and Migrant Centre and the journalist Amelia Gentleman for helping Paulette and her family. But that experience has stayed with Paulette. In the weeks after she was detained, she talked about struggling to eat and sleep. Despite repeated demands for an explanation, we still do not know why she was sent to the detention centre and detained at Yarl’s Wood.

I have some questions for the Immigration Minister. She might not be able to answer them today, but I would like some clarification. Why were we never given an explanation as to why Paulette was detained? Why did the Home Office not consider 34 years of national insurance contributions? Why did it not check with the Department for Work and Pensions? The family provided other evidence of Paulette’s decades of living in the UK. Why was that disregarded and disbelieved?

The Prime Minister was in Wolverhampton last week and apologised to Paulette through the Express & Star, which is welcome, but why has the Prime Minister, or any other Minister, not apologised to Paulette directly? More broadly, why did it take an initial refusal by Downing Street to meet the Commonwealth Heads of State, the action of my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham and the many articles written by Amelia Gentleman for this national scandal to come to light? I have known about this matter for months; other Members have known about it for years. I do not understand why it took so long for us to realise that there was a severe and cruel injustice being meted out by the Government.

In January, I asked the Government a written parliamentary question on how many Commonwealth citizens legally resident in the UK had been detained and deported, and would the Government apologise in those cases? The Immigration Minister, who is here today, which I welcome, said it would be too costly to give the numbers. However, the Government have since committed to doing that, so when can we expect to have those numbers? Will the Minister and the new Home Secretary undertake to write to those who have been mistreated to give them an apology? When can we expect the compensation scheme to be in place? Will the Government consider putting in place legal aid for those willing to come forward?

I have been troubled by a briefing I received—other Members will have had the same briefing—from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. The departing Home Secretary said in the House recently that she could guarantee there would be no future enforcement action against the Windrush generation if they made themselves known to the new taskforce. However, according to the briefing document that I have, the head of the taskforce told the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants that referrals to immigration enforcement would be made case by case. Will the Minister clarify that, because it is still not clear what the Government expect in terms of documentation from people of that generation who come forward? We cannot blame them for being fearful of coming forward, given what has happened to my constituent and many others.

The focus of the past few days, and particularly yesterday evening, was what the departing Home Secretary knew about local or regional targets, and whether she—unknowingly or not—misled Parliament. She said that she did not knowingly mislead Parliament, but in a way, that is now an irrelevance. I want to know why there are regional targets for removal. Why are the Government treating people as numbers, not human beings? What will be done about the targets? Are the Government going to get rid of them?

It is a terrible irony that the Government destroy landing cards and then accuse my constituent and others of not having evidence of their entry to the UK. It is a terrible irony that the Government collect taxes and national insurance contributions, but disbelieve individuals when they produce that evidence—I do not know why the Government cannot look for it themselves. It is a terrible irony that the departing Home Secretary is apparently not on top of her paperwork, but the Government accuse my constituent and others of not having their paperwork in order to prove their status.

The Home Office seems systematically to distrust and disbelieve people, and now it is asking the Windrush generation, who perhaps do not have the paperwork they need, to trust that the Government will believe them. It is not a surprise that that generation still feel betrayed, and still feel distrustful of the Government.

The Government need to get a grip on the situation very quickly. They still need to explain what went wrong and why it took so long for the scandal to come to light. I would like personal apologies to everybody who has been mistreated, including my constituent, and the compensation scheme needs to be dealt with properly and urgently. On top of all that, the Government need to look at their policy. They need to get rid of the removal targets and start treating people as human beings, not numbers.

Windrush

Emma Reynolds Excerpts
Monday 23rd April 2018

(6 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Amber Rudd Portrait Amber Rudd
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I am sorry to hear that example. I can say, having today met the caseworkers operating the taskforce, that their intent when they say “Look at other possibilities” is to look at other possibilities to help. I ask her to convey that to her constituents, because it is their genuine endeavour. I made that point in my statement as well: there is no question of removing people. I know it is a fear, but it is not happening, and I urge her to communicate that back to her constituents and the lawyers. I should add that when I initially called—immediately—to have the taskforce and phone line set up, it was a phone line at a call centre for about 24 hours, possibly longer; it is now properly run and staffed by the Home Office and by professionals, as one would expect.

Emma Reynolds Portrait Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) (Lab)
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In 2015 my constituent Paulette Wilson, a 62-year-old grandmother who came to the UK from Jamaica 50 years ago, was sent a letter by the Home Office out of the blue—to her dismay—telling her that there was no evidence of her lawful entry into the country, and no evidence of her right to remain. Two years later, she was detained at Yarl’s Wood and threatened with deportation to a country where she had no surviving family, and where she had not been since the age of 10. I want to know why it has taken the detention of my constituent, and other cases raised by Members on both sides of the House, for the Government to get a grip on this issue and whether my constituent will be fully compensated for loss of income, loss of benefits, and the inhumane way in which she was treated.

Amber Rudd Portrait Amber Rudd
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I share the hon. Lady’s indignation about the way in which her constituent was treated. Her first application, which was rejected, was made in 2003. I am pleased that she has now received her documentation, which was sent to her in December. I agree that this sounds like the sort of case that would be eligible for compensation. However, I must allow the compensation scheme to be set up and the necessary consultation to take place, so that the scheme is right and people can gain access to it in a way that is fair.

Windrush Children (Immigration Status)

Emma Reynolds Excerpts
Monday 16th April 2018

(6 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Urgent Questions are proposed each morning by backbench MPs, and up to two may be selected each day by the Speaker. Chosen Urgent Questions are announced 30 minutes before Parliament sits each day.

Each Urgent Question requires a Government Minister to give a response on the debate topic.

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Amber Rudd Portrait Amber Rudd
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I only heard part of the hon. Gentleman’s question, but I can tell him that I do not know of any cases where people have been removed. However, I have said to Members here, as I have said to the high commissioners, that if they know of any cases, they should bring them to us.

Emma Reynolds Portrait Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) (Lab)
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My constituent Paulette Wilson came here from Jamaica in 1968 aged 10. She worked in the UK all her life, including here in Parliament. Last October, she was detained at Yarl’s Wood and threatened with being deported. The Home Secretary says that she does not know the extent of this problem or the numbers, but surely a simple search by date of birth and origin would give her that data. Will she go away and have a look at that?

Amber Rudd Portrait Amber Rudd
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If the hon. Lady wants to write to me about a particular case, I will certainly look at it. I have put out an instruction today that there will be no detention or removals of anybody in this cohort who raises any questions, so I have removed that fear. But I am much more ambitious than that. I want to make sure that our new dedicated unit really addresses this and sorts out, to the satisfaction of everybody involved, the individual status of the people who have come here and contributed so much.