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Gurkhas: Pensions

Volume 495: debated on Friday 3 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Gurkha soldiers who served with the UK armed forces before 1997 receive no pension from his Department; and if he will make a statement. (283985)

There are around 5,000 veterans and veterans' widows who do not qualify for a Service Pension but who receive a Welfare Pension from the Gurkha Welfare Scheme, which is the field arm of the independent charity, the Gurkha Welfare Trust. The Welfare Pension is paid from donations made to the Gurkha Welfare Trust which allows them a sustainable lifestyle. The Ministry of Defence grants the Gurkha Welfare Trust more than £1 million per year, which covers most of its administrative costs in Nepal.

There are around 7,000 veterans who did not serve for long enough to qualify for a Service Pension and who are not yet old enough or needy enough to qualify for a Welfare Pension. On leaving the Brigade of Gurkhas, they would have received a gratuity but no pension. If these veterans fall on hard times they too become eligible for a Welfare Pension.

All veterans receive free primary health care and those without Gurkha Pension Scheme or AFPS payments receive free secondary health care, all through the Gurkha Welfare Scheme.