The Liberal Democrats have become the first party to pass a motion condemning the Windrush scandal, at their Autumn conference in Brighton today.
John Leech, who was one of just 18 MPs to vote against the original 2014 Anti-Immigration Act, demanded apologies from every MP who had voted in favour of the 'divisive and dehumanising' bill.
In a motion named "Righting Wrongs: Restoring the Rights of the Windrush Generation", Liberal Democrat members voted overwhelmingly in favour of a number recommendations including a public enquiry into immigration policy, a compensation system and full restoration of rights.
In a passionate and stirring speech, John Leech, who was one of just 18 MPs to vote against the original 2014 Anti-Immigration Act, said:
"This bill was not just divisive and dehumanising but it was a catastrophic lapse in judgement.
"Whilst I am proud to have voted against it in 2014, we now need to ensure that we heal those hurt by this horrific bill and that means repealing every inch of it, restoring rights, compensating families and a full enquiry to hold those responsible to account."
In a final slamming of the legislation, Mr Leech demanded: "Theresa May, the Government and those who voted in favour ought to apologise."
The full motion called for a public enquiry into immigration policy and practice of the UK government between 1997–2018 with powers to compel the Government and UK institutions to reveal all relevant information leading to the repeal of the offending legislation.
It also called for the full restoration of rights with indefinite rights to remain, access to housing, healthcare, welfare, and employment. It also called for the return of those wrongly deported or detained and the establishment of a compensation system for victims.
A total of just 18 MPs across the House opposed the Anti-Immigration Act 2014 - which included a controversial clause effectively making the Windrush scandal possible - and just one, John Leech, in the whole of the North West
The Windrush Generation is a collection of around 500,000 people, predominantly from the Carribean, who were brought over to the UK between 1948 and 1971 to help rebuild post-war Britain travelling over on a ship called the ‘Empire Windrush’
Most of the Windrush Generation, many of them the children of parents who had chosen to make the trip, don’t by-and-large have the requisite paperwork to formalise the legitimacy of their right to remain. Many of the children simply came over on their parents’ passports.
In 2012, after increasing fear about the rise of UKIP, the Conservative Government looked to clamp down on immigration, pledging to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands.
Under the pressure of the target, Home Secretary, now Prime Minister, Theresa May, devised a strategy designed to deter and catch illegal migrants, nicknamed the ‘Hostile Environment’.
The Immigration Act 1971 gave those who had moved to Britain before 1971 indefinite leave to remain, including the Windrush Generation who came to Britain to contribute and help rebuild the country post-war.
The ‘Hostile Environment’ was implemented most importantly through the Immigration Act 2014 which was a piece of legislation that increased the powers of Immigration Enforcement Officers and obligated the carrying out of invasive checks and searches of anyone deemed to be a foreigner.
Upon a vote in Parliament, the vast majority of Conservative and Labour MPs either voted for or abstained on the Immigration Bill, allowing it to pass into law and become the Immigration Act 2014.