Last week was shameful for the Home Secretary.
We heard the devastating news on Wednesday 24th November that at least 27 people seeking safety in the UK died while attempting to cross the Channel, including five women and a young girl. My thoughts are with those lost and their loved ones left behind.
The Tories must take the perilous danger these vulnerable people are forced into more seriously. There are four things the Government could be doing to prevent such a disastrous failure from happening again: providing safe and legal routes for refugees, tackling the traffickers taking advantage of those in need, reverse their misguided and controversial cut on overseas aid, and working constructively with our overseas partners on this.
The Dubs scheme must be urgently reinstated. This scheme was established with the aim of giving refugee children the right to be reunited with their families, should they be separated in the process of finding safety. However, the Tories shut this scheme down when it had helped a mere 480 unaccompanied children out of the 3,000 promised.
This was a horrifically harsh reminder that what this Government does – or fails to do – can have catastrophic results. They should never have let this happen.
Last week also saw the publication of another report on the Windrush Generation Compensation Scheme by the Home Affairs Committee. The report was damning: four years after the Windrush scandal emerged, just 5% of people have received compensation for the unacceptable way they were treated by the Home Office. Tragically, 23 people have died before they received a penny in reparations.
These are real people, not just unfortunate statistics. Of the 23 who died before receiving compensation, one was a Bristol West constituent. It is wrong that the Government is so slow in righting the wrongs that they themselves have caused.
Many applicants to the scheme have found the process unnecessarily arduous with an excessive emphasis on providing documentation, and as a result many were reluctant to apply at all. After the trauma of being wrongly deemed immigration offenders, this process must be as quick and painless as possible.
Over the last four years I’ve helped several constituents through this compensation process. I was the first MP to hold a surgery event with members of the Windrush Generation and Home Office officials to help get this sorted. But resolving these cases has still been too slow. And those are the people who came to me, there will be many more that never come forward because they are so disillusioned with the Home Office.
The Home Secretary must step up. The people of this country deserve so much more than the bare minimum approach her department seem to be taking. Labour will continue to fight for these rights to be honoured, and I will always be motivated by the interests of Bristol West constituents.