Amber Rudd: Victims of Windrush scandal to have citizenship fees waived
Victims of the Windrush scandal are to have their citizenship fees waived, Amber Rudd has announced.
The Home Secretary also said they will not be forced to take citizenship tests.
Children of those who arrived in the UK from the Caribbean who need to apply for naturalisation will not be charged any fees either.
In a statement to MPs, Ms Rudd said those caught up in the scandal were “British in all but legal status”.
She said: “It was never the intention that the Windrush generation should be disadvantaged by measures put in place to tackle illegal immigration.
“These people worked here for decades. In many cases they helped establish the NHS.”
She added: “An apology is the first step in righting the wrongs.”
“The state has let these people down.”
But she faced jeers from opposition MPs who shouted: “It was you who let them down”.
A political row erupted after it emerged many of those who arrived in Britain from the Caribbean decades ago were facing deportation under new immigration rules.
Ms Rudd also announced that the Home Office would be establishing a new scheme to compensate those affected, and said that the scheme would be independently run.
“Where people have suffered loss, they will be compensated.”
“None of this can undo the pain, already endured, but I hope it demonstrates the government’s commitment to put these wrongs right going forward.”
Shadow Home Secretary Dianne Abbot said that the treatment of the Windrush generation was one of the biggest “scandals” in the history of the Home Office.
She accused the Home Secretary of “behaving as if it was a shock to her that officials are implementing regulations in the way she intended.”
“These cases can’t come as a surprise to her because for some time many of my colleagues on this side of the House have been pursuing individual cases”, she said.
“Member after member has written to the Home Office trying to draw attention to these cases.”
She added: “The Home Secretary has to understand that ultimately the buck stops with her.”
Labour backbench MP David Lammy slammed the Home Office's response saying that the Windrush migrants were already citizens when they came to the country 70 years ago.
“The Home Secretary just said Windrush children can become citizens if they want to be. They were citizens when we invited them 70 years ago. Their citizenship is theirs by right, and was taken away by your government, not something that your government is now choosing to grant them."