The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Anna Soubry)
The Government would like to thank the hon. Member for Thurrock (Jackie Doyle-Price) and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gurkha Welfare for leading an inquiry into grievances held by members of the Gurkha veterans’ community. This inquiry has provided the Gurkha veterans’ community an independent forum within which their grievances have been listened to, considered and ultimately debated in Parliament. The Government would like to pay tribute to the manner in which the Gurkha community have participated in this unique inquiry and taken the opportunity to present evidence about the grievances which some hold.
In response to the inquiry’s findings the Government will implement a number of measures which will mean greater financial and social support for Gurkha veterans from both the Government and the charitable sector. These measures include the provision of £5 million of additional funding from LIBOR fines announced in the autumn statement. This money will be made available over the next five years to the Gurkha Welfare Trust, a charity which supports Gurkha veterans. This funding will be able to support the provision of additional care and support for Gurkha veterans in Nepal or the UK.
The Government will also set up a fund to compensate retired Gurkhas who left the brigade after marriage to a non-Nepalese. The Government recognise that the approach to mixed marriage was a matter of cultural importance to those within the Brigade of Gurkhas at the time. However they do not believe this policy reflects the values which the Armed Forces and the United Kingdom holds in the 21st century. They have therefore decided to set up a scheme to offer a payment to those directly affected by this policy. Details of the scheme and how Gurkhas can claim will be published in due course.
In addition to these measures in response to the APPG report, the Government have also awarded £960,000 to Gurkha Homes Limited. This money is from the £40 million Veterans Accommodation Fund launched in 2014 using money from LIBOR fines. This will see 32 new homes built in four locations across the UK for Gurkha veterans. This will enable up to 64 Gurkha veterans and their spouses or partners to live in high quality affordable accommodation while integrating into local communities.
These commitments are a clear demonstration that the Government are willing to address previous injustices and concerns held within the Gurkha community where it is appropriate to do so. It is also a statement of the enduring gratitude felt by the nation to the Gurkha community for their service. These measures will help to ensure that Gurkha veterans have the opportunity to live in retirement with the further support and gratitude of the British Government.
The Government’s full response has been placed in the Library of the House.