Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg tabled the following motion for debate in the House of Commons today:
That this House condemns the Government's recent statement outlining the eligibility criteria for Gurkhas to reside in the United Kingdom; recognises the contribution the Gurkhas have made to the safety and freedom of the United Kingdom for the past 200 years; notes that more Gurkhas have laid down their lives for the United Kingdom than are estimated to want to live here; believes that Gurkhas who retired before 1997 should be treated fairly and in the same way as those who have retired since; is concerned that the Government's new guidelines will permit only a small minority of Gurkhas and their families to settle whilst preventing the vast majority; further believes that people who are prepared to fight and die for the United Kingdom should be entitled to live here; and calls upon the Government to withdraw its new guidelines immediately and bring forward revised proposals that extend an equal right of residence to all Gurkhas.
Frank Little writes:
On behalf of the local party, and as parliamentary candidate for Neath, I wrote to both our local MPs pointing out the disparity between Labour's commitment to even-handedness in race relations and Borders and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas's apparently discriminatory action. Fijian and Jamaican servicemen are given rights of residence in the UK denied to Gurkhas.
Their replies are broadly sympathetic, but without any commitment to challenge the decision. I hope that they will attend at least part of the debate and put conscience ahead of party loyalty when it comes to the vote.
** Update ** The Liberal Democrat motion won by 21. Aberavon MP Dr Hywel Francis and Neath's Peter Hain voted against it. Labour members who voted for the motion included Dianne Abbott, Andrew Mackinlay and Bob Marshall-Andrews.
Chris Huhne led for the party. His speech is in Hansard here (column 890).