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6 Mar 2003 : Column 1046—continued

Miss Widdecombe: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. I should have said earlier that I was delighted to see my right hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Sir J. Stanley) in his place, in his

6 Mar 2003 : Column 1047

capacity as a member of the Britain-Nepal parliamentary group. Before the Minister reaches his peroration—which I sense is about to happen—I must point out that, so far, he has not addressed the matter that took up about 50 per cent. of my speech, which is the way in which we insist that Gurkhas return to Nepal at the end of their 15 years' service, and whether there is a case for reviewing that.

Dr. Moonie: I thought that I had addressed that issue in some detail, because the thrust of the argument that I thought I was making was that the whole point of maintaining the ethos of Gurkha regiments as Gurkha regiments is to ensure that those who serve are able to return to their own country, as is part of the agreement under which they serve in the British Army in the first place. It is rare for nationals of a country not our own or—as the terms and conditions for enlistment in general would suggest—of the Commonwealth to enlist in our armed forces. It is incumbent on us to be very careful to ensure that the legal niceties are observed. However, I have listened very carefully to what she says about this subject, and I can assure her that I will discuss the matter with my officials and those who represent the Gurkha community to see how much of a problem is caused. Although I do not want to get her spirits up too much—

Miss Widdecombe: Oh!

Dr. Moonie: That is the nature of these things. None the less, I shall see whether any leeway is likely to be available to us. It may often seem that we are rigid—and perhaps even over-rigid—in the criteria that we apply in such cases, but I am generally assured that there are very good reasons for applying them as we do.

Sir John Stanley (Tonbridge and Malling): I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. The key point that my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) was making is that, on the discharge of Gurkhas back in Nepal at the end of their term of service, if they apply subsequently for settlement in the United Kingdom, the Home Office takes absolutely no account whatever in practice either of the value and utility of former British Gurkha soldiers and officers or of their valuable years of service in the British Army when considering those applications.

Dr. Moonie: That is a nice distinction and one that I had not appreciated from what the right hon. Lady said. That is a very different issue and I can assure her that I will take it up with my colleagues, although I again make no promises as to the outcome.

I should like briefly to return to the housing situation, which I know will interest the right hon. Lady. As she knows, although we have made enormous strides over the past few years, much of our service housing remains unsatisfactory. A joint decision has been taken by the Army and the Defence Housing Executive to relocate families and bring to an end a period of uncertainty with regard to 151 1960s houses for other ranks at Maidstone. We are anxious that families currently spread over five locations should be located as close together as possible in the interests of regimental integrity, morale, welfare and operational effectiveness.

6 Mar 2003 : Column 1048

It is also important that Gurkha families attached to the regiment continue to be able to exercise traditional customs and procedures while maintaining their strong sense of community. The Army is determined that, when the families eventually move from Invicta park, the same level of community support will provided at Chatham.

What can I say in summary? I have listened very carefully to the right hon. Lady's arguments and I have a great deal of sympathy for them. I am constrained by the terms of the agreement under which we engage Gurkhas in the first place, but I will have an honest look at it and see whether any changes are possible. I can assure her of that and I thank her again for raising this matter in the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at twenty-eight minutes past Six o'clock.

Correction

Division list No. 99, Official Report, Tuesday 4 March 2003, columns 758–61, should read as follows:

The House divided: Ayes 47, Noes 415.

Division No. 99


AYES


Allan, Richard
Barrett, John
Beith, rh A. J.
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Burnett, John
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Carmichael, Alistair
Chidgey, David
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Doughty, Sue
Ewing, Annabelle
Foster, Don (Bath)
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gidley, Sandra
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Harvey, Nick
Heath, David
Holmes, Paul
Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness)
Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Lamb, Norman
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Moore, Michael
Oaten, Mark (Winchester)
Öpik, Lembit
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Pugh, Dr. John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Salmond, Alex
Sanders, Adrian
Smyth, Rev. Martin (Belfast S)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Thurso, John
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Weir, Michael
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil



NOES


Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Amess, David
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Arbuthnot, rh James
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bacon, Richard
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Baldry, Tony
Banks, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Barnes, Harry
Baron, John (Billericay)
Barron, rh Kevin
Battle, John
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Bellingham, Henry
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Beresford, Sir Paul
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burns, Simon
Burt, Alistair
Byers, rh Stephen
Cairns, David
Cameron, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Cash, William
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chaytor, David
Chope, Christopher
Clapham, Michael
Clappison, James
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Collins, Tim
Colman, Tony
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cousins, Jim
Cran, James (Beverley)
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack (Copeland)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drown, Ms Julia
Duncan, Peter (Galloway)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Farrelly, Paul
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Francois, Mark
Gardiner, Barry
Garnier, Edward
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Gummer, rh John
Hain, rh Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hammond, Philip
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Healey, John
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hendry, Charles
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hood, Jimmy (Clydesdale)
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horam, John (Orpington)
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hunter, Andrew
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, rh Adam
Jack, rh Michael
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jamieson, David
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Kaufman, rh Gerald
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kelly, Ruth (Bolton W)
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Khabra, Piara S.
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lammy, David
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leigh, Edward
Leslie, Christopher
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lilley, rh Peter
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Loughton, Tim
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McIsaac, Shona
Mackay, rh Andrew
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McLoughlin, Patrick
McNulty, Tony
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Malins, Humfrey
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Maples, John
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
Mercer, Patrick
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr. Lewis
Morgan, Julie
Moss, Malcolm
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Owen, Albert
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Portillo, rh Michael
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Randall, John
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Redwood, rh John
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, rh Dr. John (Hamilton N & Bellshill)
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rooney, Terry
Rosindell, Andrew
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruane, Chris
Ruffley, David
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sayeed, Jonathan
Sedgemore, Brian
Selous, Andrew
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Shepherd, Richard
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soames, Nicholas
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh John
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stinchcombe, Paul
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Streeter, Gary
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Tredinnick, David
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyrie, Andrew
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Walley, Ms Joan
Walter, Robert
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Robert N.
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Whittingdale, John
Wicks, Malcolm
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Wilshire, David
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Yeo, Tim (S Suffolk)
Young, rh Sir George


Question accordingly negatived.

6 Mar 2003 : Column 1052



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