Yesterday a Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Lee of Trafford, introduced a Bill urging the Government to reverse its opposition to Gurkhas being able to stay in the UK after finishing their service in the British Army. Here are extracts from the contributions from Tory Lord Glentoran and Crossbencher Viscount Slim in support of Lord Lee’s Bill.
Lord Glentoran: "The situation is an insult to the Gurkhas who are unable to come to this country voluntarily and straightforwardly—those who retired before 1997. I see no logic in it whatever. In fact, there is no logic in it. It is just a straight insult to a group of probably the most loyal, worthy and brave people who have ever served this nation. They have many VCs and, as the noble Lord said, have served for over 200 years all over the world; indeed, now they are serving in Afghanistan. They have not given us up, so why are we giving them up in this rather unpleasant and unnecessary way? When we look at the numbers concerned, the situation is extraordinary. As a percentage of total immigration figures or anything you like—choose any number from the national budget—what is the cost of accommodating 10,000 Gurkha families? Because they retired before 1997, it has to be a diminishing figure. That is the way life is; we get old and die and cost nothing when we are dead, pretty well. I simply do not follow the logic of the Government sticking with their position."
Viscount Slim: "People underestimate the value of the Gurkha as a citizen—he has much to offer. To start with, he is a man of integrity, compared with the immigrants whom we have allowed in from all sorts of places off the streets—the terrorists, the criminals and the mafia groups that have emerged in our country. We seem to like to have them, but we would be much happier if we had some loyal Gurkhas among us. Their skills are many. They are good farmers in harsh conditions. They are good at transportation. They are engineers. They are also entrepreneurs; some good little Gurkha businesses have been set up in this country, which are doing no harm at all—as opposed to some of the other people who have been let into our country."