UK to review Gurkhas’ service terms

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, January 12:

British defence secretary Geoff Hoon said he has asked the Ministry of Defence to carry out a wide-ranging review of the terms and conditions of British Gurkhas’ service amid public “unease” over the treatment to the Gurkha soldiers.

Hoon told British MPs that the study would look at whether differences in their terms and conditions were “absolutely justifiable.” He said, “Public criticism and unease continues over differences between Gurkhas’ terms and conditions and those of the wider Army,” adding, “We are, therefore, anxious to ensure that such differences are absolutely justifiable as well as fully understood and accepted by our Gurkha soldiers.”

According to a news report of Joe Churcher, PA chief parliamentary reporter, and sent here by Gopal Siwakoti Chintan, legal advisor of the Gurkha Army Ex-servicemen’s Organisation (GAESO), Hoon said, “We want to ensure that the MoD’s position, both legally and morally, is beyond reproach.” Hoon said there had been a succession of changes to the terms and conditions to reflect changing circumstances, the report said. In a written House of Commons statement, Hoon said: “This will be an extensive piece of work and we will endeavour to take account of the views of all those with a legitimate interest. This new review will build on earlier findings, including work to date on the review of Gurkha Married Accompanied Service but its scope will be much wider and it is aiming to complete in autumn 2005.”

The news also said Hoon expressed “regret” that the review of the right to married quarters had not yet been completed but said he expected to be able to make an announcement by summer.