Windrush Day in the House of Commons

Yesterday a small number of people spoke in the House of Commons about the Windrush Day which actually takes place on the 22nd June each year. It was started and finished by Helen Hayes who is the Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood. Along with Helen there was a number of other MPs who took part including Peter Bottomley who was the only Sussex MP who was able or bothered enough to take part. It is worth asking our other 15 Sussex MPs why they did not get involved and to thank Peter Bottomley for taking part. Outside of Parliament the BBC has also referred to Windrush day on it website so the following text is what they have stated as part of the debate.

Windrush Day takes place on 22 June – A special day to remember when around 500 migrants from the Caribbean arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex in 1948. This year the government has announced that it will be giving £500,000 to charities, community groups and councils across England to mark the event. This money will be used to fund 42 projects, such as museum exhibitions, performances and programmes for schools, to help tell the story of the Windrush Generation.

The response from Helen Hayes was

I beg to move, That this House has considered Windrush Day 2021. I am grateful to the Backbench Business Committee for allocating time for this debate today. 22 June 2021 was the fourth official annual Windrush Day, designated by the Government as part of the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks in 2018, and following a long campaign led by Patrick Vernon. I wanted to ensure that, to mark Windrush Day, Members from across the House had the opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of the Windrush generation in their communities, and I hope that that is what we will hear in this debate.

Windrush Day is a national day to celebrate the extraordinary and enduring contribution of the Windrush generation to the UK. I am proud to represent a constituency with a very direct connection to the arrival of the Empire Windrush in 1948. About 200 Windrush passengers travelled from the temporary accommodation provided in the Clapham Common deep shelter to Coldharbour Lane in my constituency, where many found work at the local labour exchange and settled in the surrounding area, putting down deep roots and helping to form and sustain the Brixton we know today. They include the late Sam King, who became the first black mayor of Southwark, and Aldwyn Roberts, the grand master of calypso, who performed as Lord Kitchener.

She then later on states

The Government promised to right the wrongs of the Windrush scandal, but are failing to do so. An evaluation of the Windrush compensation scheme published by the National Audit Office in May found that the scheme had paid compensation to fewer than 700 victims and had 2,000 claims outstanding. The report also highlighted mistakes and poor-quality assurance, the high proportion of the scheme’s funding that has been spent on staff, and the low number of victims who have come forward to make a claim compared with the estimated total number of victims. Appallingly, 21 victims have died while still waiting to receive compensation.

And so at the end of the discussion this was some of the comments from Kit Malthouse who was the Minister who bothered to attend – presumably Priti Patel could not be bothered to attend just as much as Parliament was not able to have the debate until 9 days after the Windrush day

As I outlined, the current total is actually 732 claims, but it has been too slow. That is why, as I said, the Home Secretary took direct action in December last year and we have seen a significant acceleration in payments thus far. We hope that that progress will continue.

As a number of Members mentioned, the death of 21 individuals before we were able to offer them compensation does weigh extremely heavily on all of us and is a source of sorrow and regret. We are working with their families to ensure that compensation is paid out, while recognising that doing so can never provide adequate consolation. Now we have completed the implementation of the December changes I referred to, we are committed to reducing the time between submission and decision over the coming months. To do that, we are recruiting additional caseworkers and directing resources to maximise final decision output, as well as improving the evidence-gathering process by revising our data-sharing agreements with other Departments on our forms, guidance and processes.

So let us hope that by next year they will have reduced the outstanding individuals to as close as 0 as they can!

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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