hac081104no67

Session 2007-08 4 November 2008


GURKHAS

Committee recommends Gurkhas be given settlement rights

The Home Affairs Committee this morning took evidence on the rights of Gurkhas to settle in the UK. As a result of this hearing the Committee has this afternoon written to the Home Secretary on the subject. The full text of the letter is appended.

The Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Committee said:

"The evidence that we heard today was extremely moving and the committee was united in its call to highlight the debt of gratitude that this country owes Gurkhas."

"We wrote immediately to the Home Secretary to recommend that all former Gurkhas be given settlement rights as soon as possible."

Appendix: Letter from Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Committee Chairman, to Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP, Home Secretary.

Dear Jacqui

RE: GURKHAS

The Home Affairs Committee took evidence in a one-off hearing today, Tuesday 4th November, on the rights of Gurkhas to settlement in the UK. We heard compelling testimony from two ex-Gurkha soldiers and from long-standing Gurkha campaigners.

As a result of the evidence we heard today, the Committee has asked me to write to you with the following conclusions, and ask that you take urgent action in response.

1. The Committee considers that the UK owes an historic debt of gratitude to the Gurkhas for their brave, loyal and distinguished service in the defence of this country.

2. The Committee agrees that the current Government policy of distinguishing between those Gurkhas who retired prior to 1 July 1997 - the date on which the base of the Brigade of Gurkhas transferred from Hong Kong to the UK - and those who retired after, has in effect created two classes of Gurkhas. It has also caused considerable personal suffering and hardship.

3. The Committee further concludes that this treatment of the Gurkhas is particularly unfair given the discrepancy with settlement rights afforded to other Commonwealth citizens who serve in our Armed Forces.

4. The Committee therefore urges you to take urgent action, in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence, to redress the currently unfair situation by extending settlement rights in the UK to all former Gurkhas.