Brown lied in saying that Gurkhas living in UK would cost taxpayers 1.4 billion poundsMay 3rd, 2009 - 12:58 pm ICT by ANI
London, May 3 (ANI): British Prime Minister Gordon Brown used a “fabric of falsehood and fantasy” in claiming that it would cost taxpayers 1.4 billion pounds to let Gurkhas live in Britain, according to campaigners supporting the latter’s cause.
The Prime Minister cited the figure before his humiliating defeat in the Commons last week when MPs rejected a Government ruling to restrict the number of ex-Gurkhas entitled to full settlement rights.
The sum was based on the number of Gurkhas claiming a pension in 2004 - 36,000 - with the assumption they would each bring two dependents.
More recent Ministry of Defence figures state there are only 26,500 Gurkha pensioners. On the basis of two dependents each, this brings the figure down to 75,000 applicants.
“The Government deliberately used inflated figures to make its case,” the Sunday Express quoted Chhatra Rai, general secretary of the British Gurkha Welfare Society, as saying.
“Our own accurate figures show the number of Gurkhas who would actually be eligible would be much less than the 36,000 of 2004,” he added.
“The Government has deliberately ignored two other points. First, the actual number of those who would choose to leave Nepal to come to Britain would, we believe, be a relatively small proportion. It costs 585 pounds just to apply, which is a lot of money in Nepal. If you add the airfare, it equates to a year’s or maybe two years’ salary.
“For many, it is a matter of principle. All they want is to be able to hold their head high in their villages and towns, knowing that, if they chose to, they would have the right to come.
“Secondly, we have shown that more than 95 per cent of Gurkhas who come to live in the UK are industrious and net contributors to the communities they live in. They do not take benefits. They want to work and their qualities mean that they get work,” he said.
Labour MP Martin Salter, a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee examining Gurkha Rights, backed him.
Only 1,550 Gurkhas and dependents had tried to unsuccessfully settle in the UK under the former discretionary policy and there were a further 1,350 immigration appeals pending.
Salter added: “The sum of these two totals is a strong indicator of the numbers of ex Gurkhas and dependants who wish to settle here. It is significantly below the lowest set of figures put SDHp forward by the MoD.”
Last week’s Government proposals laid out strict criteria for Gurkha immigrants, including length of service, medals of valour or ill health.
Campaigners argued that it would entitle just 100 ex-Gurkha officers to apply.
But the Government lost the vote after a campaign led by actress Joanna Lumley won backing from David Cameron’s Tories, Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems and 27 rebel Labour MPs. (ANI)
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