Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Back Gurkhas now say local Liberal Democrats

Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for local Labour MPs to support the Gurkhas after they voted against proposals to allow those who had fought for Britain to remain in the UK.

The vote on a Liberal Democrat motion was held in the House of Commons on 29th April and resulted in a shock defeat for the Government. Both Peter Hain (Neath) and Hywel Francis (Aberavon) sided with the Government, despite the overwhelming popular support for the Gurkhas.

“I was greatly disappointed to hear that Mr Hain had voted for thousands of Gurkhas to be deported from the UK,” said former Welsh Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Neath Sheila Waye. “But the Government was defeated because a few brave Labour MPs defied their party bosses and backed the Gurkhas who have so bravely fought for Britain.

“The Government has a moral duty to support those who have put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms and fight for our country. I am sorry that Mr Hain voted the opposite way.

“The Government must take notice of the will of Parliament and bring back new proposals that will allow Gurkhas to stay rather than have them kicked out of the country. I hope Mr Hain undergoes a change of heart and presses the Minister to bring forward new proposals as soon as possible.”

Aberavon Labour MP Hywel Francis has been asked to explain a “shameful” u-turn after announcing his support for Gurkhas to remain in the UK but then voting to boot them out of the country.

Angry Welsh Liberal Democrats are demanding Mr Francis writes to Gurkha organisations to explain his change of mind.

Parliamentary records show that an “Early Day Motion” (EDM) supporting the right of Gurkhas who had served in the British Army to stay in the UK was signed by Mr Francis on 29th April. No debates or votes are held on EDMs but they are used by MPs instead to show their support for a particular cause.

“Hywel Francis sided with the Gurkhas in the EDM,” said former Welsh Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Aberavon Claire Waller. “Then on the same day, according to the parliamentary record, he had betrayed them by voting for the Government’s policy of deporting most of them.

“Dr Francis has performed a rapid and shameful u-turn. He owes the Gurkhas an apology and his constituents an explanation.”

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