Letter to Prime Minister David Cameron
Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 23, 2011
The Rt Hon David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
Date: 21st February 2011
Dear Prime Minister
Mr Gerald Howarth MP and Minister for International Security Strategy – his recent letter to the Prime Minister regarding the increasing Gurkha immigrants in Rushmoor
Mr Gerald Howarth, Conservative MP for Aldershot and Minister for International Security Strategy within the Ministry of Defence, has recently written a letter to you and subsequently had a meeting with you regarding increasing Nepali migration to Rushmoor.
He stated in his letter that “this issue is of deep concerned to the local authority and its leader as their services are in danger of being overwhelmed by this ‘influx’ of Gurkhas (Nepalis) in the area”. He also pointed to the 2009 High Court ruling, which gave the British Gurkhas retired before 1997 and their dependants the right to settle in the United Kingdom (UK), as the main cause behind the recent ‘influx’. The local newspapers have reported that Mr Gerald Howarth has asked the Prime Minister to ‘deal’ with it.
The way he raised and dealt with the issue has triggered deep concern among Nepalis living in the UK, including the Gurkha Army Ex-servicemen’s Organisation (GAESO). His views expressed in the letter, along with subsequent comments to media, have not helped in any way to create a positive environment in the borough that would promote integration and social cohesion. Mr Gerald Howarth seems to be trying to represent his constituency without representing the Gurkhas/Nepalis who live there and many of whom have lived there for a long time. Singling out Nepalis in this fashion will very likely increase racial tensions and as an MP he should be more careful in his public pronouncements.
Nepalis in the UK work hard and pay taxes. They have invested money in different business areas and are trying hard to create a law-abiding and entrepreneurial society. They are bringing money and buying houses which have contributed positively to property market at the current bleak economic climate.
The majority of Nepalis living in his constituency are Gurkhas and their dependants. The Gurkhas have served the country, crown and British people since 1815. They have contributed to British society for centuries and tens of thousands have died in the past while doing so. At present, more are dying (in Afghanistan) while serving for Britain. Gurkhas have a positive attitude towards the society despite having faced discrimination in the Army with regards to pay and pension. Gurkhas have never been treated equally with their British counterparts in pay and pension, accommodation, accompanied tours and other basic rights. British Gurkhas who retired on and before 30 June 1997 and their widows, receive a much smaller pension than their British counterparts. Some Ex-Gurkhas and their widows in Nepal are still without the minimum pension.
The UK Government’s 2007 review in Terms and Conditions of Gurkhas Pension has offered an option called ‘the Gurkha Offer to Transfer (GOT)’ scheme for those who retired on and after 1 July 1997. This scheme has granted equal pension on the basis of a 3:1 ratio of Hong Kong (HK)-based service. This means that three (3) years’ HK-based service (even when served in the UK) on and before 30 June 1997 is made equivalent to one (1) year of UK-based service, i.e. one year’s pensionable service (for example, nine (9) years of HK-based service is equivalent to only 3 years’ pensionable service). Thus, Gurkhas who retired on and after 1 July 1997 with less than 22 years service will get British pension on the basis of this calculation on the day they reach 60 or an immediate pension for those who completed 22 years service. There is no historical and logical standing behind this discriminatory calculation. Whatever the reasoning behind it, it looks like a deliberate decision to discriminate against Gurkha soldiers where their pension rights are concerned, especially those who enlisted on and before 30 June 1997.
Despite such unequal treatment, Ex Gurkhas and their dependants have always preferred to integrate socially and to contribute to the well-being of the areas where they are currently living.
The Gurkha Army Ex-servicemen’s Organisation (GAESO) thus requests the Prime Minister to dissociate himself from Mr Howarth’s remarks and to acknowledge publicly the contribution Nepalis have made and can make in future to British society. GAESO also requests the Prime Minister to address the question of unequal pensions at the very earliest opportunity.
Original signed Original signed
Mr. Bhaktasher Rai Dr. Ramnarayan Kandangwa
|Rt Hon N W P “Nick” Clegg MP
Deputy Prime Minister
Deputy Prime Minister’s Office
|Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP
Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons
House of Commons
Mr Gerald Howarth MP
House of Commons
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