Members of the Windrush generation will be issued British citizenship free of charge and without the standard documentation or language test requirements, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced as she admitted that “successive governments got it wrong”.
Ms Rudd told the House of Commons fees for any children of the Windrush generation who need to apply for naturalisation and charges associated with returning to the UK for people who have retired to their countries of origin after making their lives here would also be waived.
The Home Secretary admitted that steps introduced since the 1980s have had an “unintended and sometimes devastating” impact on people from the Windrush generation who are here legally but have struggled to get documentation to prove their status.
Ms Rudd said Home Office official were manually trawling through more than 8,000 records dating back to 2002 to establish whether any Windrush-era immigrants to the UK had been wrongly deported.
At the halfway point in the search, none had been identified, but the Home Secretary said the information would also be independently audited.
A consultation will be launched to seek views on how the government should compensation those affected by the controversy.
The Home Secretary told MPs: “The state has let these people down”, but Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott personally blamed Ms Rudd, telling her that “she allowed it to happen”.
Ms Abbott branded the incident “one of the biggest scandals in the administration of home affairs”.
She said: “These cases can’t come as surprise to her because for some time many of my colleagues on this side of the House have been pursuing individual cases.
“She is behaving as if it is a shock to her that officials are implementing regulations in the way she intended them to be implemented.”
Ms Abbott drew cheers from the Labour benches after telling Ms Rudd “ultimately the buck stops with her”.
The SNP home affairs spokeswoman Joanna Cherry MP said the scandal had been caused by the government’s “ludicrous immigration target” and claimed Ms Rudd was being used as a “human shield” to protect Theresa May, the Home Secretary at the time that many of the toughest immigration restrictions were introduced.
Earlier, during debate in the House of Lords, former children’s television presenter Floella Benjamin branded the Windrush scandal “a matter of national shame”.