LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s government launched a review on Wednesday into the treatment of some Caribbean migrants who were invited to Britain after World War Two but have been left without documents and denied basic rights.
Prime Minister Theresa May, a former interior minister who once led efforts to tackle illegal immigration, appointed a new Home Secretary this week to try to draw a line under the scandal that has threatened her authority as she negotiates Brexit.
Sajid Javid, the son of immigrants from Pakistan, pledged that his new department would learn the lessons of what happened to the so-called “Windrush generation” from the review, which would be concluded before the summer.
“This review will seek to draw out how members of the Windrush generation came to be entangled in measures designed for illegal immigrants, why that was not spotted sooner and whether the right corrective measures are now in place,” Javid told parliament.
He said he would keep parliament informed monthly on the review’s progress and the “latest position on detentions, removals and deportations”.
The scandal has weighed on May, and the main opposition Labour Party has pressed for a full inquiry, calling on the government to release documents, emails and texts from 2010, when she herself was Home Secretary.
Labour lost a motion in parliament late on Wednesday that would have compelled the government to hand over this evidence for scrutiny by lawmakers of the assembly’s Home Affairs Committee.
“It appears that the Prime Minister, by asking the new Home Secretary to conduct an inquiry separately, without any of the clear processes and powers that we’re talking about, is trying to avoid accountability,” a Labour spokesman told reporters ahead of the vote in parliament.
“The suspicion must be that this is part of a continuing cover-up to avoid the Prime Minister’s own role in what took place being exposed.”
May’s team pushed back, saying Javid’s review was the “appropriate way forward”, allowing the government to move quickly.