Government looking into recovering Windrush anchor for UK memorial – ministers

Ministers have confirmed that they are looking into whether the anchor of the Windrush ship can be salvaged from the seabed to create a monument.

The Empire Windrush carried one of the first large groups of West Indian immigrants from Jamaica to the UK after the Second World War.

They were among tens of thousands of people – known as the Windrush generation – to arrive from 1948 to help rebuild post-war Britain.

Opening a debate to mark Windrush Day, Labour MP Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood) asked the Government whether they would back the campaign announced last month to recover the Empire Windrush’s anchor.

She said: “I want to ask if the Government will support the campaign to raise the anchor from the Empire Windrush, which currently lies off the coast of Libya on the Mediterranean seabed so that it can be displayed as part of the 75th Windrush anniversary celebrations in 2023.

“A tangible piece of that famous ship which can be used to tell the story of the remarkable Windrush generation for years to come.”

Sir Peter Bottomley, father of the House and Conservative MP for Worthing West, backed the call.

He said: “Can I congratulate (Ms Hayes) for her introduction to this debate and say I hope the Government will follow up with her suggestion to see whether it is possible to retrieve the anchor from Windrush off the coast of Libya.”

Home Office minister Kit Malthouse confirmed that colleagues in the Department for Transport were looking into the situation around raising the anchor.

He told MPs: “The Windrush scandal is a stain on this country’s conscience and we owe it to those who have suffered as a result to deliver lasting and meaningful change and ensure nothing like this ever happens again.

“I’m happy to say that as we celebrate today that generation – and hopefully in the years to come – on Windrush Day, the Department for Transport is currently investigating whether the anchor from the Windrush can be recovered and restored to become a fitting memorial to that generation, in the hope that we will all aspire to the aspiration of (Sir Peter’s) that in the future, the colour of our skin will matter no more and no less than the colour of our eyes.”

Concerns were also raised about the Government’s efforts to compensate victims of the Windrush scandal.

The scandal erupted in 2018 when British citizens, mostly from the Caribbean, were wrongly detained, deported or threatened with deportation, despite having the right to live in Britain.

Many lost homes and jobs and were denied access to healthcare and benefits.

Labour MP Abena Oppong-Asare (Erith and Thamesmead) told the Commons: “The compensation scheme should be removed from the Home Office and managed by an independent, non-government agency to provide trust, respect and confidence to the victims and their families.”

She added that the Government should include a “full apology letter” with every compensation award.

Mr Malthouse said Home Secretary Priti Patel sent a “personal letter of apology” to every person awarded money from the Windrush Compensation Scheme, with 732 awarded so far.

He added that Labour’s call to hand the compensation to an independent body would delay the processing of claims and the administering of financial reimbursement.