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Senior Labour MP calls on Government to re-think Gurkha Policy | Immigration Matters

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The Government must revise its policy on Gurkha immigration rights, says senior Labour MP Keith Vaz. 

Home Affairs select committee Chairman Keith Vaz said the issue would not “go away” until this happened, the BBC reports this weekend. 

Mr Vaz was one of 27 Labour rebels who voted against the Government in the Commons for a Lib Dem motion to give all former Gurkhas the right to settle in the UK.

The Government, which suffered only its fourth Commons defeat since 1997 over the issue, will now publish new proposals by the summer. 

The Lib Dem motion, passed by a majority of 21, is not binding on ministers, but was seen as an embarrassing setback for Prime Minister Gordon Brown. 

The motion calls for former Gurkhas who served before 1997 to be given the same rights to settle in the UK as those who served after that date. 

Around 36,000 Gurkhas – a brigade of Nepalese soldiers who have fought in the British Army in conflicts from Aden to Afghanistan – have been denied UK residency because they left before 1997. 

Ministers wanted to introduced rules allowing more of these older soldiers to settle in the UK based on long service, medals received, and injuries suffered in battle. 

The Home Office said the change would allow about 4,300 in, but the Gurkha Justice Campaign backed by Actress Joanna Lumley said that only a few hundred would benefit. 

Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas promised MPs that revised proposals will be published before Parliament’s summer recess. 

He added that all outstanding applications for UK residence by Gurkhas would be dealt with by the end of May. 

Joanna Lumley and Mr Woolas will give evidence to Mr Vaz’s committee on Tuesday.

Speaking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Vaz said: 

“This issue is not going to go away. Ministers have the opportunity to first of all, deal with all the outstanding cases which they promised to do by the end of May and then formulate a new policy. 

“But I think what Parliament will not accept is the same policy again.” 

He added:

“This wasn’t a vote against Gordon Brown. This was a vote in favour of a particular change of policy that provides justice for the Gurkhas.” 

Ms Lumley said government claims that up to 100,000 people could come to the UK as a result of a change of immigration policy were “mad”. She said: 

“They wouldn’t all come here; they just want the right to come here. As one of them said to me on Wednesday, Britain would be our second home but always our first love.” 

There had been only 1,350 outstanding applications from pre-1997 Gurkhas, she said.

But Mr Woolas warned last week that an open-door approach could cost billions of pounds.

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2 Responses to “Senior Labour MP calls on Government to re-think Gurkha Policy”
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  1. […] beleaguered Border and Immigration Minister has been under fire recently over the Gurkhas debacle after the Government lost a vote in Parliament forcing a rethink on its […]

  2. […] over his Parliamentary expenses claims and losing a vote in Parliament, forcing the Government to re-think it’s policy on former Gurkhas wishing to settle in the […]

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