Minister refuses to deny claim Government is dropping some Windrush pledges

A Home Office minister repeatedly refused to deny reports the Home Office is planning to row back on promises made in the wake of the Windrush scandal.

The Government initially pledged to implement all the recommendations of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review by Wendy Williams, but claims have emerged it plans to renege on several of them.

Those on the chopping board include plans for a migrants’ commissioner, increasing the powers of the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration (ICIBI) and holding reconciliation events, according to The Guardian.

Confronted with this report in the House of Lords, Lord Murray of Blidworth said the Government “won’t comment on leaks”.

Nevertheless, peers pressed the minister to reassure them that the Government was still committed to all the recommendations.

Labour frontbencher Lord Coaker argued that a failure to implement all the recommendations as promised would be a “final betrayal of the generation”.

Lord Murray said: “The Government won’t comment on leaks and I don’t propose to do so today.”

Baroness Benjamin, who is chairwoman of the Windrush Commemoration Committee said: “Because of the Windrush scandal, one can be forgiven for feeling anxious, nervous and worried when we hear reports regarding government plans to go back on Wendy Williams recommendations.

“In my recent letter to the Prime Minister, I stated this would be disrespectful and perceived as wicked, vindictive and heartless.

“This is a matter of national pride and we must be determined to right the wrongs of injustice and hurt.

State Opening of Parliament
Baroness Floella Benjamin (Arthur Edwards/PA)

“Will the Government categorically assure me, this House and the Caribbean committee that these rumours are untrue and that it intends to fulfil all its pledges?”

However, Lord Murray still refused to comment on whether the Government was planning to ditch plans to implement all the recommendations.

He said: “As I observed to the noble lord a moment ago, the Government doesn’t comment on leaks and I don’t propose to do so now.”

Former police office and Liberal Democrat peer Lord Paddick again attempted to get a straight answer from the minister.

He said: “Without commenting on leaks, would the minister agree that a failure to implement all the recommendations of the independent Williams review would be adding insult to injury to the Afro-Caribbean community?”

The minister replied: “Tempting though it is to travel down that line of answer proffered by Lord Paddick, I’m afraid that would amount to commenting on the leaks and I don’t propose to do so.”

The minister’s refusal to clarify the Government’s position comes after another Home Office minister, Sarah Dines MP, described the Guardian article as “inaccurate”.

She said: “I simply don’t accept that the Government is abandoning these recommendations”, taking aim at the “seemingly inaccurate Guardian article”, containing what she described as “fallacious, inaccurate information”.

Boris Johnson final week in office
Priti Patel (Andrew Boyers/PA)

This compensation aims to make amends for the Windrush scandal, which erupted in 2018, when British citizens, mostly from the Caribbean were wrongly detained, deported or threatened with deportation, despite having the right to live in Britain.

Many lost homes and jobs, and were denied access to healthcare and benefits.

Solicitor Wendy Williams made a raft of recommendations for change in a 2020 report into how the scandal happened, concluding that it was “foreseeable and avoidable”.

Former Home Secretary Priti Patel accepted all 30 recommendations, but on receiving progress made by the Home Office in March 2022, Ms Williams said she was “disappointed” that only eight had been implemented in full.