Government Minister Rejects Reading Peoples's Gurkha Petition
16th September 2008
Reading West Conservatives recently organised a local petition calling on the Government to deliver a fair financial deal for the Gurkha veterans and equal settlement rights in line with Commonwealth citizens.
2,522 people from across Reading and Berkshire signed the petition and local Reading Gurkha veterans Mr. Birkha Rai and Mr. Dilli Jabegu joined Alok Sharma, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Reading West, and Councillor Tom Steele to deliver the petition to 10 Downing Street.
Derek Twigg MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence and Minister for Veterans wrote to Alok Sharma following the petition stating: “The entitlement of Gurkhas who served on or after 1 July 1997 to be granted settlement in the UK and then to apply for citizenship already exists. But extending this entitlement to those who served before 1 July 1997 as a reward for military service would not be in line with Home Office immigration rules.”
Mr. Twigg's letter concluded: “It is my view that the rules that govern former Gurkhas settling in the UK are reasonable and that the Home Office has been very fair in its handling of those cases where applicants do not meet the normal rules.”
Alok Sharma said: “The support from Reading people for the Gurkha petition was absolutely magnificent. Unfortunately Mr. Twigg’s response is a slap in the face for those who signed the petition and particularly the Gurkha veterans who have over many generations served bravely to protect British interests. I hope the High Court rules in favour of the Gurkha veterans and I will certainly be joining the veterans outside the High Court to demonstrate the support of local Conservatives in Reading.”