Gordon MacMillan,  UK Politics

Finally government makes Gurkha response

It is frightening how long this took them to do. The Brown government must have a special unit working on PR gaffes. They take their work very seriously.

Finally, home secretary Jacqui Smith has announced on behalf of the government that all Gurkha veterans who retired before 1997 with at least four years’ service will be allowed to settle in the UK. Gordon Brown met Joanna Lumley, who has led the fight so well, as the decision was announced.

10 Downing Street issued this statement: “For many years, the Brigade of Gurkhas have shown bravery, commitment and dedication in serving this country, and continue to do so on operations today.

“This Government has done more for Gurkhas than any other. It was the first Government to grant settlement to Gurkhas and the first to equalise pay and pensions, with over 6,000 former Gurkhas and their families already given the right to live in the UK.  In April we took steps to increase the number of Gurkhas eligible to come to this country by 4,000 or, including families, 10,000 people.

“The House of Commons has now expressed a clear view that all Gurkhas should be entitled to settle in the United Kingdom if that is what they wish.

“This Government respects the will of the House of Commons and recognises the strong feeling and public support for this cause.  Consequently, we have announced today that all former Gurkhas who served for longer than four years will be eligible to apply for settlement in the United Kingdom.  They will also be entitled to bring their spouses and dependent minor children.  There will be no time limit on applications.

“This scheme recognises the unique nature of the service given to the UK by the Brigade of Gurkhas and is offered to them on an exceptional basis.

“We believe that in announcing the new policy today, we have met their concerns and those of Parliament.