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Move to let Gurkhas bring their families delayed

A British defence ministry review that could allow 150 Gurkhas to bring their families to live in York has been delayed.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2004 13:10 IST

A British defence ministry review that could allow 150 Gurkhas to bring their families to live in York has been delayed.

The government ordered the review after the wives and children of Gurkhas
who fought in the Iraq war were not around to greet them on their return to
Imphal Barracks last year. York MP Hugh Bayley said this was wrong - as British troops who returned to the city were re-united with their families.

The ministry of defence promised to look at changing the rules admitting
they "fall short of the provisions available to British personnel". Reports say that ministers have revealed the review ordered in June was still not completed. They are unable to give a firm date on when it will be concluded.

Bayley said: "When all the British men and women came back to York they were
greeted by their families but because of the rules the Gurkhas did not have
this opportunity, and I felt this was unfair. The government has said it will review the rules and I had hoped it would be completed last year."

"I have now been told by the minister it will be finished sometime this year. This review needs to be completed as quickly as possible, so Gurkhas stationed in Britain know where they stand."

British troops based at the barracks already have permission to live with their families. They are also allowed to take their families with them on overseas postings to places such as Germany. But defence ministry rules, dating back to 1947, state that family accommodation can only be provided to Gurkhas holding the rank of colour sergeant or above. This has forced more the 150 York-based Gurkhas renowned for their bravery and skill to live without their families in the barracks.

If the ministry does eventually confirm changes in the rules that stem from
a tripartite agreement between the governments of Britain, India and Nepal,
new family accommodation could be built at Imphal Barracks in York.

First Published: Jan 21, 2004 13:10 IST