Labour demands to see Windrush documents in bid to expose how much Theresa May knew

Theresa May holds a meeting with Commonwealth leaders over the Windrush scandal. Credit: PA

Labour is piling the pressure on the government to release documents, emails and texts relating to the Windrush scandal.

The party wants to see all Windrush correspondence dating back to 2010 in a bid to expose how much Theresa May knew.

Labour will use a special procedure that could ultimately see the Queen direct ministers to provide the documents.

How could Labour force the publication of the documents?

On Wednesday, Labour will use a rarely used parliamentary procedure to attempt to force ministers to hand over correspondence between ministers, officials and special advisers between May 2010 and 2018.

Wednesday is an Opposition Day in Parliament, meaning Labour can chose the subjects to be discussed.

The party could then table a motion which involves asking the Queen to direct her ministers to provide the requested documents, so long as this passes a vote in the Commons.

The procedure is a way of transforming an Opposition Day debate into a binding motion, meaning the Conservatives may be unable to follow their recent practice of simply not voting on Labour-led Commons business.

But could the Conservatives vote the motion down?

Dawn Butler warned her fellow MPs constituents will hold them 'accountable'. Credit: ITV News

Shadow women and equalities minister Dawn Butler told ITV News that MPs should expect a backlash if they didn't support the disclosure.

"If MPs care about Windrush, if they care about British citizens who have been treated appallingly this way, they will vote for this," she said.

"If they don't vote for this, I'm sure their constituents and the rest of the country will hold them accountable."

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the scandal had "exposed something rotten at the heart of Government" and "full disclosure of the facts" was required.

What is the parliamentary procedure?

The process is called a motion for a return, and is a rarely used parliamentary procedure.

The same process was used last year to force the Government to hand over papers on the impact of Brexit to the Commons Exiting the EU Committee.

So what will be handed over if Labour wins the vote?

The Windrush generation came to Britain from the Commonwealth between the late 1940s and 1970s. Credit: PA

If Labour wins a vote in the Commons the documents - including emails and text messages - would be handed to the Home Affairs Committee.

Labour's motion demands the disclosure of material relating to policy decisions in the Immigration Acts of 2014 and 2016 - when Mrs May was home secretary - regarding cases "including deportations, detentions and refusal of re-entry, the setting of deportation and removal targets and their effect on the Windrush generation".

It would also require the release of material relating to action taken within Government following the concerns raised by Caribbean governments with the Foreign Office.

Why does Labour want the documents from May 2010 onwards?

Theresa May's years at the Home Office are under scrutiny. Credit: PA

Theresa May became home secretary in May 2010, after the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats formed a coalition government following the 2010 General Election.

Prior to this there had been a Labour government, meaning Labour would more easily be able to access any home office documents relating to Windrush.

What is known about May's conduct over Windrush?

In 2010 and under Mrs May's time in the Home Office, the landing cards belonging to Windrush migrants were destroyed.

Two years later in 2012 citizenship documents became mandatory for people to work or access benefits in the UK.

As a result, many of the so-called Windrush generation, people who came to Britain from the Commonwealth between the late 1940s and 1970s, have faced difficulties over their immigration status because they lack the papers to prove their right to be in the UK.

What do Labour accuse May of over Windrush?

Diane Abbott has called for a 'full disclosure of the facts'. Credit: PA

Labour's Diane Abbott believes Mrs May was using Amber Rudd as a "human shield".

But now that Ms Rudd has resigned and been replaced by Sajid Javid, she said the prime minister must "fully account for the policies she created and drove through from the Home Office into Downing Street".

She went on: "The Windrush scandal has exposed something rotten at the heart of Government. We need to know what has led to this situation.

"If the Prime Minister is too weak to be accountable, Labour will have to force her to be accountable.

"We have had enough of ministers trying to dodge questions and blame others, we need full disclosure of all the facts."

What is being done to help those affected?

Some of the Windrush victims visited Parliament on Tuesday, where they received an apology. Credit: PA

Ministers have now offered free citizenship for people who arrived from the Commonwealth in the decades following the Second World War and promised a compensation scheme to those affected.

On Tuesday, Windrush victims received a personal apology from an immigration minister during a visit to Parliament.

Speaking at a cross-party meeting, Caroline Nokes acknowledged that their treatment was an "appalling scandal".

A former worker in Parliament's canteen and a man who was denied cancer treatment were among those who were in attendance to hear the apology.

Ms Nokes said: "I don't expect people to make me welcome here this afternoon. I don't expect people to give me an easy ride.

"To everybody that has been affected by this appalling scandal, I am sorry.

"It is important to me to be here this afternoon. Not to speak at length and certainly not to give a defence on behalf of the Government but to say sorry.

"I will try and be here this afternoon for as long as I can to listen what people have to say but I just wish to put absolutely and formally on record how sorry I am that this has happened on my watch."

The new home secretary, Mr Javid, has ruled out using the phrase "hostile environment" in terms of immigration.

He is also also facing Tory demands to "retire" Home Office measures developed by Mrs May.