Sunday, March 23, 2008
Liberal Democrats Lead Gurkha Protest
"Its quite simply a national disgrace" - Nick Clegg
Liberal Democrat News Report:
At a mass protest outside Parliament on Wednesday, the Liberal Democrat Leader was given a box full of medals by angry Gurkhas who have served in the British Army before 1997 and who are being denied a full pension and the right to British Citizenship.
"When I told people what you get from the Government in return for the years of brave, loyal, uncomplaining service, people simply don't believe it." Nick Clegg told the ex-servicemen. It is quite simply a national disgrace. I am simply saying you should be treated with the respect and honour you deserve as brave soldiers. I will do everything I can to end this unacceptable and immoral discrimination."
Nick Clegg later tackled Gordon Brown over the issue at Prime Ministers Questions. He said: " Two hours ago a retired Gurkha soldier handed over this medal to me in protest at the Governments refusal to grant him a British citizenship. Do you know what it means for a loyal British soldier to give up a medal that he won for his long years of service to this country? And can you explain to the Gurkhas why on earth you believe that Gurkhas who have served in the Army after 1997 are worthy of British citizenship but those who served before that date should be deported?"
Gordon Browns answer - that in 1997 the Gurkhas, who were then based in Hong Kong, moved to Britain - did little to pacify the ex-servicemen. Soldiers who retire after July 1997 recieve a pension on the same terms as the rest of the British Army. But those who retired before that date collect one-sixth of the amount recieved by a British soldier. It is believed that around 3,300 Grukhas who retired before 1997 are still resident in the UK and would be affected by the Legislation.
Gurkhas have fought for Britain since 1815 and served in conflicts including the Falklands and Afghanistan.
Liberal Democrat Defense spokesperson in the Lords, and former Defense Minister, John Lee tabled his Immigration (Discharged Gurkhas) Bill this week. " Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords are tabling a Bill which would allow all Gurkhas indefinate leave to remain on the same basis as Commonwealth soldiers," he said. "Having served our country with distinction, the threat of deportation hanging over thousands of Gurkhas and their families living in Britain is a national disgrace."
For more information and to follow the campaign go to:
Nick Clegg - Treatment of Gurkhas a National Disgrace
Retired Gurkhas Hand Back Medals
Gurkhas hand back medals in pension and citizenship protest