It was good news to hear that The Gurkhas won their High Court battle today for the right to settle in Britain.
The judge, Mr Justice Blake, made clear that the long military service of these men, their wounds sustained in battle. their conspicuous acts of bravery, their acts of gallantry and their commitment and loyalty to the Crown all point to an unquestionable historic “moral debt of honour” and gratitude which the ordinary people of Britain embrace and celebrate.
This was despite a petition to 10 Downing Street earlier in the year which was rejected:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Allow all Ghurkas to have the service and pension rights of the British Army and that all who have served in the British Army can stay in Britain if they choose to do so.
There is no news on the pension front for the Ghurkas but hopefully that same moral debt will be paid.
By coincidence this week I received a letter from the UK Department for Works and Pensions in response to a letter to 10 Downing Street. The two-page form letter provides only partial and very guarded responses. There is much better and more complete information on the Pension Parity UK website.
The letter concludes with the following (here slightly abridged but retaining the original sense):
You may be aware that the issue has been considered in the Courts. In May 2002 the High Court found that the Government was not in breach of the Human Rights Act. This decision confirmed the Department’s understanding that the Government is not obliged to uprate State Pensions where it has no legal obligation. An application has now been made to the European Court of Human Rights. The Court has decided to give the application priority treatment.
If Courts are now accepting historic moral debts, perhaps the answer in 2008 will be different.
Related: Paying a moral debt
Despite being lauded by hypocritical politicians, Gurkha soldiers have been treated appallingly. Now, justice may be done