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Ministers questioned by David Lammy on deportation flight to Jamaica

10 February 2020

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David Lammy MP asked Ministers from the Home Office on the "suppressed" Windrush Lessons Learned Review and its implications on planned deportation flight to Jamaica.

The Windrush scandal refers to longstanding UK residents from Commonwealth countries who were wrongly classed as illegal immigrants under the Government's 'hostile environment' policy. Victims were denied public services and benefits, and many were deported to countries they had not lived since they were children.

A report into the scandal, named the Windrush Lessons Learned Review, was commissioned in 2018 but is yet to be published. A leak of the draft review stated that the Government should "consider ending all deportation of foreign national offenders where they arrived in the UK as children".

However, 50 foreign-born offenders are due to be deported on a flight leaving the UK for Jamaica tomorrow (Tuesday 11 February 2020), many of whom arrived in the UK as children.

Kevin Foster MP: "keeping the public safe"

Responding to the urgent question on behalf of the Government, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Kevin Foster, told the House that "righting the wrongs" of Windrush was a "priority" for the Government.

Mr Foster stated that this was why they set up a taskforce and a compensation scheme to aid those affected, as well as commissioning the Lessons Learned Review.

The Minister said that the review was not being "suppressed", but that it had not been submitted to Ministers by the independent advisor. He said that when it was, the Home Office would take any recommendations "very seriously".

In reference to tomorrow's planned deportation flight, the Minister said that by law the Home Office was required to "issue a deportation charter for anyone who is a serious or persistent foreign-national offender".

He concluded:

"Tomorrow's flight is about keeping the public safe. It cannot and should not be conflated with the wrongs suffered by the Windrush generation."

David Lammy MP: "when will black lives once again matter?"

David Lammy, who asked the urgent question, "reminded" the Minister that during the Windrush scandal 164 people were wrongly detained and deported, and 5,000 people were denied access to public services such as healthcare, education and pensions.

Mr Lammy said that the Government "rightly" set up the Independent Advisory Group and, as a result of this, suspended deportations to Jamaica. Referencing the leaked Review, he asked the Minister "why have they resumed those flights?"

Bearing in mind that many of those set to be deported tomorrow arrived to the UK as children, the Member asked how, in light of the Windrush scandal, the Government can guarantee that none of them are British nationals.

He also took issue with the Minister's categorisation of those onboard the flight as "murderers and rapists", stating that the Minister knows "that there are many who are there for non-violent offences".

Mr Lammy concluded:

"People watching see the way that this Government holds in such disrespect the contributions of West Indian, Caribbean and black people in this country. When will black lives once again matter?"

Image: PA Images/Cara Molden

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