She asked why Javid had chosen to write letters to just 18 victims identified as having been wrongfully detained or deported “despite the government itself identifying 164 such victims”.
“Ministers need to abandon the hostile environment policy; until they do, the reek of the Windrush scandal will forever be associated with the home secretary and this government, throughout the Commonwealth,” Abbott said.
Nokes said the government had no intention of abandoning its “compliant environment” strategy, formerly known as the “hostile environment”, and listed a number of policies aimed at curbing illegal immigration that were implemented under Labour.
Reiterating the government’s apologies for its handling of the Windrush crisis, Nokes said: “Mistakes were made over a long period of time for which this government has apologised and continues to apologise because we are very sorry to those to whom wrong was done.”
She said Javid and his predecessor, Amber Rudd, who resigned as a result of the scandal, had made “sincere and heartfelt” apologies to the Windrush generation.
Progress was being made in rectifying problems, Nokes said. By the end of July, 2,272 Windrush people had been given papers confirming their right to remain in the UK, and 1,465 had been granted full British citizenship as a result of applications to the Windrush taskforce, she said. Its staff had answered more than 8,000 calls and was helping eligible individuals to return to the UK, Nokes said.
MPs gave details of Windrush constituents who were still suffering from the scandal’s fallout. One MP complained that benefits were still being withheld from a constituent and another spoke of “intolerable delays” in the taskforce’s decision-making process. Another said numerous people were still too frightened to come forward because of their “deep mistrust” of the Home Office.
Labour’s Emma Dent Coad said she had eight Windrush constituents who required better support from the government, “one of whom was left destitute, having lost all his benefits, evicted by the council, forced to sleep on the streets until my office intervened. This happened three weeks ago.”
The government last month launched a call for evidence to inform its lessons learned review. Wendy Williams, the solicitor who is overseeing the review, will be joining Martin Forde, the barrister who is devising a compensation scheme, in London on Thursday for the first in a number of roadshows, where they hope to meet affected people to hear their personal accounts.
Over the next few months, Williams hopes to speak to Home Office staff, as well as immigration lawyers and people responsible for “maintaining the ‘compliant environment’”.