Commonwealth citizens, like the Windrush generation, are a unique group who have built their life here and have contributed enormously to our country. I do not want anyone to be in any doubt about their right to remain here.
I believe this generation of migrants helped rebuild our country after the Second World War and they were settled in the UK under our legislation at the time. These men and woman came to the UK, built their lives here and enriched our communities. To put it simply, members of the Windrush generation made the United Kingdom a more successful place and are rightly a central part of our great national story.
However, over several decades the members of the Windrush generation were not treated with the respect they deserved. I believe the great injustices over many decades many of the Windrush generation have suffered at the hands of successive Governments was completely unacceptable. This was wrong.
The Black Lives Matters demonstrations last year brought into sharper focus the injustices of the past and work which remains to be done today.
The Government has rightly stated nothing can reverse the pain inflicted on the Windrush Generation. However, I do welcome the firm commitment by Ministers to do everything possible to right these wrongs and ensure this can never happen again.
I would like to reassure you if an individual is settled in the UK but does not have a document to prove it, they may be eligible to apply to the 'Windrush Scheme'. This means they may be able to apply for a document to prove they can live and work in the UK. This is the case if one of the following is true - they came to the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973, their parents came to the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973 or they came to the UK from any country before 31 December 1988 and are now settled here. Individuals may also be entitled to apply for citizenship for free if they are a Commonwealth citizen who settled in the UK before 1 January 1973, or are the child of someone who did.
As you will be aware, the Home Secretary received the Windrush Lessons Learned Review from independent adviser Wendy Williams and published the report at the earliest opportunity. The report is clear, lessons must be learned at all levels and by all political parties. I agree this is a national scandal and must be treated as such.
The Independent Advisor suggests the Home Secretary gives careful consideration to the findings outlined in the report. I agree entirely a detailed formal response must not be rushed to allow for the most difficult questions to be asked and answered. I welcome the Home Secretary has said she will be accepting the recommendations made in full and will provide an update on implementing the recommendations before the summer recess.
I also understand your concerns regarding the need for those who deserve compensation to receive it as soon as possible. The Home Secretary has reassured me the Home Office is processing claims as quickly as possible. However, there are a variety of factors which can alter the time taken, including the complexity of the case. It is good news that where possible, interim payments will be made on the more straightforward parts of the claim such as immigration fees.
I sincerely hope this process can mark the beginning of a new chapter at the Home Office where no one is made to feel unwelcome in their own country.