Gurkha Matters

Martin Salter (Reading West, Labour) 

Last December it was my sad duty to attend the funeral in Reading of campaigning Gurkha war veteran Bhim Prasad Gurung, who died in abject poverty while awaiting the outcome of his appeal against the refusal to offer him settlement in the UK. The Prime Minister should be aware that Bhim would have faced deportation under the new guidelines announced on Friday, as he was made redundant after 12 years of brave service and denied his Ministry of Defence pension. Will the Prime Minister be more specific about how quickly he will bring forward his promised 12-month review of the policy, finish the job that the Labour Government started in 2004, and deliver justice for Gurkhas at last?

Photo of Gordon BrownGordon Brown (Prime Minister; Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath, Labour) 

Let me say first that my hon. Friend has been a campaigner on behalf of the Gurkhas, and he has raised the matter with me not only on many occasions, but recently. I can also say that I sympathise with the case of his constituent and the difficulties that he had faced. In the cases where no answers have been given, we have promised that the answers will come by 11 June. On the further reviews that are taking place, the Home Secretary has made it clear that she will continue to review the position. I am very sensitive to the position of the rifleman whom my hon. Friend mentioned. We will look carefully at that over the next few weeks.





Photo of Martin SalterMartin Salter (Reading West, Labour) 

I suspect that tomorrow will be a bad day for the House of Commons, but today was a very good day for Parliament. Some 1,350 Gurkhas will now not face deportation. An unacceptable policy put forward on Friday was disowned on Wednesday, and will be reviewed in a matter of weeks. Does the Minister accept that one of the most offensive arguments put forward was the assumption in advice given to Ministers—I have copies of that advice—that those Gurkhas will be on the dole and on the council housing waiting list? In fact, studies that we have done in communities with substantial numbers of Gurkhas show that the Gurkhas are working, are economically active, pay their way, and will make a massive contribution to this country.

Photo of Phil WoolasPhil Woolas (Minister of State (also in the Home Office), Home Office; Oldham East & Saddleworth, Labour) 

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the points that he raised. He organised the meeting in the House of Commons during the consultation. May I say, for the record, that as a result of that meeting we revised the figures, based on the evidence that he and others presented? I intend to keep an open mind on the figures, because many people have many different points of view.

Published in: on April 30, 2009 at 9:49 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Hi there, I’d appreciate a link to my Reading List too, but I’d be doubly happy if you could get in touch with me at oranjepan[at]hotmail[dot]co[dot]uk

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