Martin Salter - working hard for Reading West
Martin Salter with Gurkha campaigners Joanna Lumley and Gyanraj Rai
Martin Salter with Gurkha campaigners Joanna Lumley and Gyanraj Rai

Salter Hails Gurkha Announcement as “A Rare Good Day for Parliament”

Speaking in the House of Commons, Reading West Martin Salter who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gurkha Rights expressed his joy and delight at the change of heart by the Government when they announced that Gurkha soldiers who retired prior to 1997 would be allowed to apply to settle in the UK.

Mr Salter, who spearheaded the Gurkha campaign in Parliament had successfully enlisted the support of the powerful Home Affairs Select Committee in favour of the Gurkha cause. On Tuesday the Select Committee held a roundtable discussion with Government officials from the Ministry of Defence, Home Office, and Gurkha campaigners which saw the Government concede that the previous estimates of both the numbers of Gurkhas likely to settle in the UK and the cost to the UK taxpayer had been greatly exaggerated. Last month the Government was defeated on an Opposition Day Motion in the House of Commons on the Gurkha issue.

Mr Salter said:-

“This has been a long and, at times, brilliant campaign fought out there in the country with the inspirational leadership of people like Joanna Lumley and here in Parliament with the steadfast support of MPs from all sides of the House. At a time when the House of Commons is in turmoil, it is a privilege for us to be able to say that this announcement represents a rare good day for Parliament. Like many other MPs I came into politics motivated by a desire to make things better and to fight for just causes. The Gurkha campaign has, for me, been the highlight of my time in Parliament and I am pleased to have played my part in achieving justice for the Gurkhas at last. There is a very simple principle that those who are prepared to risk their lives for our country have a right to live in our country.”

At the statement the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and the Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz paid tribute to the campaign run by Martin Salter in Parliament.

Tim Heaver, a solicitor acting on behalf of the Gurkha community said:-

“I am overjoyed at this decision which would not have happened had it not been for the hard work put in on behalf of the Gurkha community by Joanna Lumley, the All Party Group, the Home Affairs Committee, and Martin Salter who persuaded the Government to rethink its settlement policy.”