Monday, 27 April 2009

Gurkha Campaign Not Over Yet

The announcement that Labour Immigration minister Phil Woolas has laid down strict criteria for the settlement of former Gurkhas has prompted a forthright response.

Labour MP for Reading West, Martin Salter is "bitterly disappointed".

In his statement he called the decision by the party he supports "disgraceful" and called on his colleagues to "use any Parliamentary means at our disposal to challenge this dreadfully disappointing decision".

The five new criteria include:
- three years continuous residence in the UK during or after service;
- Close family in the UK;
- A bravery award of level one to three;
- Service of 20 years or more in the Gurkha brigade;
- Chronic or long-term medical condition caused or aggravated by service

which will only allow only 300 of 1,300 outstanding applications to be granted, according to Home Office figures. Mr Salter described the list as a 'cynical compilation' designed to obstruct justice.

Conservative councillor Dave Luckett 'is ashamed' of the decision by the Labour government and reminds us that this is an issue which has cross-party support locally.

LibDem group leader and parliamentary candidate Cllr Gareth Epps explains that Reading is home to significant numbers of Gurkhas and describes the potential exclusion and deportation of former soldiers as a shameless act of cruelty against people who put their lives on the line to defend the country.

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Update: The Parliamentary Home Affairs Committee has criticised the government on the issue. Martin Salter described the decision by his Labour party colleagues as "a completely disgraceful decision [which] does a great disservice to the brave Gurkha soldiers."

Green Party candidate Adrian Windisch has reprinted an email from Joanna Lumley on behalf of the Gurkha campaign reiterating the cross-party nature of the issue. It also advertises the campaign website www.gurkhajustice.org.uk to enable supporters to keep in contact and up-to-date as a parliamentary vote is tabled by LibDems later this week.

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More on the Gurkha residency campaign.

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