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Gurkhas (Pay And Allowances)

Volume 640: debated on Wednesday 17 May 1961

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asked the Secretary of State for War if he will state the pay and allowances of Gurkha soldiers serving in the British Army in this country; and how they compare with those of similar rank in other British regiments.

As Gurkha forces have not before been regularly stationed in this country, I cannot give the comparison which the hon. Member asks. The question of allowances is at present under consideration.

In so far as we can follow the figures in the Army Estimates, is it the case that for the gunner, the sapper, the private and other similar ranks, the pay of the Gurkha soldier runs at about 5s. a day, whereas British soldiers of similar rank receive a minimum of 15s. per day, and some as much as 24s. 6d. per day? Are those figures reasonably correct? Can the hon. Gentleman also say why it is that we still have to pay awards to individuals who manage to get Gurkhas recruited into the Brigade of Gurkhas?

I do not fully understand the last part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. If he is hinting, as he said to my hon. Friend last week, that we are paying subventions to the Nepalese Government in order to get Gurkha soldiers, I will not endorse that but wholeheartedly reject it. I think I know what is behind the hon. Gentleman's question. The Gurkhas get a different basic rate of pay to the British soldier—they are all in the Royal Warrant if hon. Members wish to study them—but this is by agreement with the Nepalese Government and the Indian Government, because the Indians recruit Gurkhas as well. What matters are the allowances we pay. I can set the hon. Gentleman's mind at rest by telling him that when Gurkhas come to this country it is my intention to see that their total emoluments are in line with our costs of living and with our standards.

May I respond to the right hon. Gentleman and repeat the second part of my supplementary question? I was asking in the second part of my supplementary question why we need to have, as is shown in the Estimates, a system of paying awards to those persons or groups who get Gurkhas to join the Brigade of Gurkhas.

I am afraid this is a bit too deep for me. The hon. Gentleman had better put down that Question again.