Gerald Howarth's Nepalese immigration letter in full
February 14, 2011
The following is the full text of a letter sent by Gerald Howarth, MP for Aldershot, to the Prime Minister, Rt Hon David Cameron MP.
January 25, 2011
Dear Prime Minister
I am writing to draw your attention to an issue of grave concern across my constituency, affecting residents of Aldershot and Farnborough.
The problem relates to the inward migration of Nepalese as a direct result of the 2009 High Court ruling – endorsed by the previous government and supported by the Conservative and Liberal Democratic parties – which, as you know, gave all Gurkhas retiring prior to 1997 the right to settle in the UK, together with their dependants.
This has had a very significant impact over a very short period of time and it is now estimated that 10% of the Borough of Rushmoor’s population of approximately 90,000 is Nepalese.
This issue is of deep concern to the local authority and its Leader as their services are in danger of being overwhelmed by this influx, as are those provided by the National Health Service, Citizens Advice Bureaux and local schools.
Some GP practices are struggling to cope. It is also causing immense tensions within the community which are exacerbated by the difficulties encountered by the Nepalese in integrating into the settled community, particularly given the low levels of literacy and often limited understanding of English.
Whilst recent ex-Gurkha soldiers generally have a good command of English, virtually all elderly former soldiers never served in the UK, and the dependants have little grasp of our language.
The Nepalese themselves have a strong sense of independence and are seeking to make arrangements for their own housing which has often led to an increased number of houses in multiple occupation and overcrowding which impacts on the regulatory services, as well as on immediate neighbours.
I have discussed the matter with Ministerial colleagues in the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office.
The MoD asserts that it is a Home Office matter, whilst Damien Green says that there is nothing the Home Office can do to disperse the new arrivals. I have thus arrived at a stalemate.
My constituents cannot tolerate this massive and rapid change to their towns, so doing nothing is not an option. I have a constructive proposal to offer and would appreciate the chance to put it to you.