A push is being made to guarantee the pensions of veterans who have fought to defend this country and have since settled in Reading.

Gurkhas from the Himalayan nations have been serving in the British Armed Forces for decades, and as a reward for their service are able to settle in the UK.

Many Gurkhas chose to settle in Reading, which has meant that the town has a substantial community of Gurkha veterans and Nepalis.

As well as being able to settle in the UK, the veterans also have access to the Gurkha Pension Scheme, which provides the veterans with a pension from the government.

But Gurkhas who retired before 1997 are unable to access benefits such as the War Disablement Pension, War Pensions Scheme and the War Widows Scheme for women and men have become widowed as a result of their partner’s service.

Now, Matt Rodda, the Labour MP for Reading East, is pushing for pension justice for the Gurkhas in a series of questions and letters to government ministers.

It comes as discussions are being undertaken between the governments of the UK and Nepal on the Gurkha Pension Scheme, which took place on Wednesday, November 22.

In a letter to Dr Andrew Murrison, an under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Defence, Mr Rodda has asked whether any support for pre-1997 Gurkhas had been negotiated in these discussions.

Mr Rodda said: “We owe a debt of honour to our Gurkha pensioners, and I am calling on the Government to do more to help Gurkha veterans who retired before 1997 and who receive lower pensions than other British soldiers.

“Many local Gurkha pensioners live on very low incomes and have been particularly affected by the cost of living crisis, I am very concerned about them as we enter the Winter.

“I understand that the Government is in ongoing negotiations about this complicated issue and I asked a question at Defence Questions on Monday to raise this with the Veterans’ Minister and to press him to help speed up this process.”

Mr Rodda also asked Dr Murrison where discussions between the UK and Nepali governments were at in Parliament.

Mr Rodda said: “Gurkha soldiers who retired before 1997 receive a lower pension than other British soldiers.

“Will the Minister update the House on the current negotiations between the UK and the Government of Nepal to solve that difficult issue?”

Dr Murrison MP said: “I am seeing a bilateral committee with veterans and the Nepalese ambassador on Wednesday [November 22].

“This is an ongoing process. Mr Rodda will be aware that pension schemes are extremely complicated, and in many cases the Gurkha pension scheme and offer to transfer subsequently represents good value for many of our brave Gurkha veterans.

“I am certainly in discussion with the interested parties. I am afraid that I cannot offer any promises at all, but nevertheless discussions are ongoing.”

Negotiations have been ongoing for years, with Gurkha families conducting a hunger strike in 2021 outside Downing Street in protest over unequal military pensions.

Dr Murrison is also the Conservative MP for South West Wiltshire.