Stephen Kinnock – 2023 Speech on Windrush Lessons Learned Review

The speech made by Stephen Kinnock, the Labour MP for Aberavon, in the House of Commons on 10 January 2023.

The reality is that this Government’s treatment of the Windrush generation is surely one of the most shameful episodes in our post-war political history. The Windrush community played a pivotal role in rebuilding Britain. We all owe them a debt of honour and gratitude but, instead, consecutive Conservative Governments have treated them with utter contempt. First, they were victimised under the hostile environment policy, and then they were let down by a poorly administered compensation scheme, under which just 1,300 people have been awarded compensation when the Government originally estimated that 15,000 should be eligible. Now it is reported that the Government are set to betray the Windrush generation once again by U-turning on their commitment to implementing all 30 recommendations in Wendy Williams’s lessons learned report.

In September 2021, the then Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Witham (Priti Patel), restated her aim to put right the wrongs of this sorry affair, yet today we find the Government are rowing back on some of their commitments, including by refusing to hand additional powers to the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration and by scrapping reconciliation and community events.

Why are the Government so terrified of scrutiny? Their toxic combination of incompetence and indifference is failing the Windrush generation, just as it is failing the country as a whole. Given that Wendy Williams says that only eight of her recommendations have been implemented, will the Minister tell me today how many of the Williams recommendations have been implemented and how many the Government are ditching, as is widely reported by the media?

Why have thousands of the Windrush generation still not received any compensation at all? On the 75th anniversary of the Windrush landing, are the Windrush generation being betrayed by this Government once again?

Sarah Dines

This Government are absolutely not betraying the Windrush generation. Successive Governments of all colours have failed to step up to the mark, but this Government are stepping up. The Windrush generation are rightly identified as British and have the right to be in this country, and this remains separate from the many narratives that have been written.

The hon. Gentleman knows that the Government do not comment on leaks. What I can say is that we have matched the scale of Wendy’s challenge with the scale of our ambition and delivery. Wendy acknowledges that our ambition to achieve genuine cultural change requires ongoing reflection, which is what we are doing. The Home Office has provided regular updates on the good progress, and the statistics bear out the hard work that is happening.

I am afraid that the narrative is simply not quite right. I remind the House that 4,558 claims have been received, and the total compensation offered is £59.58 million, of which more than £51 million has already been paid. Fifty-nine per cent. of claims have a final decision and, as a lawyer in my previous profession, I know that that is quite a high number. The Government are absolutely committed to righting this injustice.