HL Deb 28 January 1997 vol 577 cc1076-7

2.42 p.m.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have yet come to a decision on the provision of appropriate accommodation for the families of Gurkha personnel posted for service in the United Kingdom.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe)

My Lords, as I explained on 14th January, and confirmed on 22nd January, I expect a decision on the review of Gurkha terms and conditions of service, including the issue of married, accompanied service in the United Kingdom, to be announced next month.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, can my noble friend give any indication as to whether that decision which is to be announced next week will be one that meets the ordinary ideas of decency and of proper provision for the dependants of these first-class soldiers?

Earl Howe

My Lords, my noble friend can be confident that the Government will want to continue to treat the Gurkhas generously. However, as I am sure he will appreciate, the last thing we wish to do is to disadvantage Gurkha soldiers and their families by not fully thinking through any changes to terms and conditions of service that we may be considering. A number of government departments are involved. The matter will inevitably take a little while longer.

Lord Dean of Beswick

My Lords, will the Minister enlighten the House as to what the Government consider to be appropriate? If there were some area of disagreement between families—the Minister will know that in housing matters that is bound to happen—can there be negotiations with those people who are to be rehoused so that their feelings about the matter may be considered as far as possible?

Earl Howe

My Lords, as regards the first part of the noble Lord's question, I ask him to wait until any announcement we make. He can judge the content of the announcement at the time.

On his second point, as a matter of general policy on the part of the Ministry of Defence, of course we try to take account of the concerns of individual families as far as we can when there is an entitlement to a married quarter.