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Welsh Liberal Democrats


Latest Gurkha Announcement Disappointing: Williams

April 24, 2009 2:31 PM

Roger Williams, Liberal Democrat MP for Brecon and Radnorshire and Shadow Secretary for Wales, has expressed his disappointment at the new rules issued by the Home Office today on settlement eligibility for Gurkha veterans who served in the British Army before 1997.

Mr Williams said:

"The Home Office believe that these new rules will allow an additional 4,300 Gurkhas to remain in Britain, but the eligibility criteria is so strict that in reality it is likely to be no more than a couple of hundred.

"After providing such a high standard of service to this country, today's announcement by the Home Office is very disappointing.

"The Gurkhas have been part of the British Army for nearly 200 years and are one of the elite forces within it.

"Within my constituency, Brecon is home to the Mandalay Company and has a large Gurkha community who are well respected and, along with their families, welcomed into our communities.

"The figures suggested by the Home Office in this latest announcement are dishonest because it will be hard for many Gurkhas to meet the eligibility criteria: the majority will not have resided in the UK for three continuous years or have gained a bravery award.

"Likewise, most Gurkhas will not have close family in the UK; only officers will have served for 20 years; and proving that a medical condition is service related from b efore 1997 will be extremely difficult.

"That someone can serve in the British Army and then not be entitled to the same rights as British soldiers is a disgrace and I hope that the Home Office will look at the criteria again and reconsider today's announcement."