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Commonwealth Veterans

Volume 691: debated on Monday 15 March 2021

What recent discussions he has had with the Home Secretary on the immigration status of Commonwealth-born veterans. (913345)

We greatly value everyone who serves in our armed forces, wherever they come from, for their contribution to the security of our nation. Non-UK personnel can settle in the United Kingdom after four years’ service, and I am pleased to confirm that we are extending the time before discharge so that applicants can be submitted from 10 to 18 weeks before they leave. In addition, an imminent consultation is due, and I urge Members to contribute to that and to try to solve the current ongoing issues regarding Commonwealth veterans.

Pay up or pack up: that is the shameful choice presented to our Commonwealth servicemen and women. I am aware of the strength of feeling that the Secretary of State has on this issue. Will he confirm when we will see the public consultation? Will the reforms promised apply to veterans and families, as well as to serving personnel?

First, may I place on record my apology to the hon. Gentleman for the delay in responding to his correspondence? That should not have happened and I apologise for it. The consultation is imminent, and we will schedule it in as soon as possible. Once it has been published, I will be happy to sit down with as many Members as possible to discuss their views on what we are proposing and on whether the measures should go further. We can take it from that point. I understand what the hon. Gentleman is saying. I am keen that whatever we do is fair for all veterans, whether Gurkhas, or serving UK national or Commonwealth personnel. We must ensure equity, but at the same time I understand the strength of feeling in the House. Those who contribute should be recognised.