The Windrush Generation were invited here as citizens to rebuild our country in the post-War period, and have lived and worked here for decades, paying their taxes and contributing hugely to our country. Yet they and their children are now being treated, by this Government, as “illegal aliens”.
This situation has caused immense distress to the people concerned, widespread concern throughout the country and international disquiet. This policy does not enhance this Government's or country's reputation for fair dealing and honouring our word. We invited people to come here on the basis that they would be equal citizens. But this Government has tried to deport them.
This gross injustice is not an accident or a one-off – it is a direct result of the 'hostile environment' policy that successive Tory Home Secretaries and Governments have fostered. A hostile environment inevitably means that suspicion is cast on people who have every right to be here. Some of these cases have arisen because people have been refused free treatment on the NHS, or because of a change of job or address, and their employer or landlord has reported them as they are obliged to do under the law, as part of the 'hostile environment'. And the policy leads to some people being deported in error. The entire hostile environment policy of the Home Office and how it treats immigrants and asylum seekers must end.
The Immigration Act removed the protections that had been put in place for Commonwealth citizens, precisely to prevent this type of scandal developing. The protections were removed without parliamentary scrutiny or debate in 2014, when Theresa May was Home Secretary. It would now be a simple matter for Theresa May to put down a Statutory Instrument to restore those protections. All that is required is some good will on the part of the Prime Minister.
Following an Urgent Question in the Commons by my Labour Colleague David Lammy MP, the former Home Secretary has apologised for the treatment of the Windrush generation, saying it was "wrong" and "appalling" that some face deportation. You can watch the urgent question here: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/618c6ebe-5584-4d5e-bae5-62348bcf96c4?in=15:41:08
Of course, Amber Rudd the Home Secretary has now resigned after she stated to my Labour colleague Yvette Cooper MP that she was unaware of any Home Office targets for deportations. However, it has since been revealed that Rudd not only knew of such targets but actively boasted to the PM about such targets. She misled Parliament and it was right that she resigned. However, questions must be asked of the current Prime Minister who instigated the policies Rudd has resigned over.
A huge number of constituents here in Edinburgh South have written to me to convey their anger and disappointment at the way the Windrush generation are being treated. I had written to the (then) Home Secretary to emphasise this and press her to take action to ensure that all those who have done so much for our country have British Citizenship. I am glad this has now been accepted by the Government and it is incumbent on the new Home Secretary to sort this mess out quickly.