Announcement for Gurkhas

Published On: March 7, 2019 02:00 AM NPT By: Mark Lancaster TD MP

Mark Lancaster TD MP

Mark Lancaster TD MP

The author is the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, UK

I announce a significant uplift to Gurkha pension provision. It will see the UK Government investing an extra £15 million to increase individual pensions 


“Bravest of the brave, most generous of the generous. Never had country more faithful friends than you.” 

Those stirring words uttered by Sir Ralph Turner, a Gurkha Officer and veteran of the First World War, still ring true today. 

Having served alongside the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers during my first Army Commission, I’ve seen first-hand the immense dedication, determination and sheer dynamism of our Gurkha personnel. More recently, as the Minister for the Armed Forces, I’ve witnessed the enormous difference they’re making around the globe whether delivering vital humanitarian aid or fighting extremism. So it goes without saying that I care passionately about making sure our loyal Gurkha community get what they need.

That’s why I visited Nepal again recently. I spoke with the Government and engaged with the Technical Committee dialogue alongside Gurkha veterans and the Government of Nepal. It’s important to use this dialogue to understand each other’s perspective on issues that I know have long been a bone of contention and which I know continue to be live issues for many in the Nepali press. So, I welcome this opportunity to correct a few misconceptions. Three points, in particular, are worth making. 

First and foremost, since 2007 any soldier joining the Brigade has done so on the same terms and conditions as their British counterparts including pay and pension. 

Second, those enlisting before 2007 were placed on different terms of service for very good reason. Under the 1947 Tripartite Agreement between the UK, Nepal and India, Gurkhas regiments became part of the British and Indian Armies. This agreement reflected the circumstances of the time and significantly, such terms of service were voluntarily accepted. But the fairness also worked both ways. Before 1975 British personnel serving less than 22 years received no pension. By contrast, Gurkhas could claim a pension for life as soon as they completed 15 years of service and even after 1975 anyone serving less than 22 years in the British Army had to wait until 60 before receiving their pension. Most Gurkhas had begun to receive theirs in their 30s. Over the years Gurkha pensions have been steadily increasing, often at a much faster rate than British pensions. The increases I have announced today will bring the average Gurkha pension to around 730K Nepali Rupees per year. This provides for a good standard of living and this history means many of those Gurkhas receive better pensions over a lifetime than their British counterparts with similar service. 

Third, Gurkha pensions are one part of a much wider support package. The British government has agreed that veterans with more than four years of service discharged before 1997 can settle in the UK and receive access to welfare and medical support. And the Government continues to support the Gurkha Welfare Trust in Nepal through annual grants and plans to provide an additional £25 million (3.6 billion Nepali Rupees) for healthcare for Gurkhas in Nepal over the next ten years.

Ultimately, alterations to the Armed Forces existing terms and conditions must always be fair to all members of the British Armed Forces. It isn’t possible to meet the expectations of everyone. But having listened intently to veterans concerns I believe there is more we can do. So today I announce a significant uplift to Gurkha pension provision. It will see the UK Government investing an extra £15 million (2 ¼ billion Nepali Rupees) to increase individual pensions by between 10 percent and 34 percent. 

Today Sir Ralph Turner’s immortal words about the bravery of Gurkhas are engraved in stone on the statue that stands sentinel outside my office in Whitehall. That memorial is much more than a tribute to two centuries’ worth of Gurkha sacrifice and service. It is a reminder of the UK government’s commitment to ensuring our heroic Gurkha Brigade remains as integral to our future as they have been to our past.

The author is the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, UK

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