All 1 Bob Seely contributions to the Windrush Compensation Scheme (Expenditure) Act 2020

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Mon 10th Feb 2020
Windrush Compensation Scheme (Expenditure) Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & Money resolution: House of Commons & Programme motion: House of Commons & 2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & Money resolution & Money resolution: House of Commons & Programme motion & Programme motion: House of Commons & 2nd reading & Programme motion & Money resolution

Windrush Compensation Scheme (Expenditure) Bill Debate

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Department: Home Office

Windrush Compensation Scheme (Expenditure) Bill

Bob Seely Excerpts
2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & Money resolution: House of Commons & Programme motion: House of Commons & Money resolution & Programme motion
Monday 10th February 2020

(4 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Bob Seely Portrait Bob Seely (Isle of Wight) (Con)
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It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Manchester Central (Lucy Powell), who made some very important points.

I welcome the Bill and the Government’s recognition that the Windrush compensation scheme is a critical step in rectifying mistakes made and the losses faced by individuals wrongly deported from their own country. I do not have many ethnic minorities on the Isle of Wight, but this is about humanity and the rule of law, and therefore I make no apology for speaking in this debate.

The negative impacts suffered by members of the Windrush generation resulted from their being unable to demonstrate their lawful immigration status. Given the circumstances of their arrival here from 1948 onwards, it is arguable that the burden of proof, which required them to find the documents to support their claims, was set too high. There is a darker implication, however, in that the approach to investigations has involved the systematic targeting of specific groups combined with a failure to handle immigration law with integrity. As someone who is partially an immigrant to this country myself, I am all for having a strict immigration system, but it needs to be fair and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr Baker) said, humane. If it is neither strict nor fair but has the appearance of being arbitrary, that is bad for all of us.

I am glad to support this scheme for those who have suffered adverse effects on their lives, including the loss of employment and access to healthcare, housing and education, as well as a negative impact on health, physical and mental. The process of claiming for compensation requires evidence of when folks arrived in the UK. I welcome the existence of a dedicated team working to help people to collate the evidence they need, but there are issues, as we have heard from both sides of the House, about the length of time claimants—British citizens—are being made to wait for their compensation, and it is disturbing that some people are passing away believing themselves to be members of this nation when their state disputes that. Even if that is happening in only a handful of cases, it is a handful too many.

One purpose of the Bill is to restore confidence in our immigration system, and I hope it does, but cases are still being reported of British families being divided. I would welcome Ministers’ comments on what can be done proactively to help citizens while they are in the UK, rather than their having to wait until they face deportation or are being deported before they can start to fight their case. Moreover, what of the younger generation of this group who now feel threatened? We need to be proactive and ensure that we encourage people to come forward, be naturalised and make sure that family members’ births and histories are recorded legally in this country so as to prevent such destructive mistakes from happening again. I call on the Government to take one more proactive step. I understand that people are still receiving eviction letters and being booked on to deportation flights. We should work with embassies of origin or embassies of countries we are sending people to, as well as with the NHS, landlords, employers, banks and charities, to find the right course of action in individual cases.

Finally—I am being brief because I know other Members want to speak—it is important that we recognise the role of the Windrush generation who came to this country after the war, setting up businesses, working on the buses, in hospitals, and doing really valuable work in our country, bringing with them a new culture and contributing in many different ways to our quality of life. We are talking about many ethnic groups from across the world. It is important to recognise that. It is great that Ministers are getting out there, but can more be done to advertise that we are trying—retrospectively, admittedly—to deal with this problem and to recognise the important things that the Windrush generation did for this country?