Commonwealth recruits deserve better than a big bill from the Home Office

Sir Kevin Barron MP.
Sir Kevin Barron MP.

British armed forces have recruited from Commonwealth nations to support intervention in major global conflicts for many years, writes Sir Kevin Barron.

I pay tribute to the service men and women who keep us all safe.

I understand that the fees for Indefinite Leave to Remain faced by former members of the UK armed forces from the Commonwealth, and their families, are £2,389 per person.

In April, the Immigration Minister stated that the Government had no current plans to exempt Commonwealth nationals who have served in the forces, or their immediate family members, from these fees.

However, following pressure from inside and outside of Parliament, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence has said the Ministry of Defence is in discussions with the Home Office on this issue.

It is concerning that many charges imposed by the Home Office can be unreasonably high.

READ THIS: Rother Valley MP says Labour will give armed forces personnel the support they deserve.

Exorbitant charges hit the poor and those with larger families the hardest.

I would like to see charges imposed by the Home Office reviewed, to ensure they more closely reflect the actual cost.

I believe that the Government needs to do much more to show how valued Britain’s dedicated service personnel are – such as working to tackle the recruitment crisis and properly funding the pay award, instead of letting the burden fall on the Ministry of Defence’s existing budget.

I would like to see the Government urgently review the barriers to recruitment and retention in the armed forces.

I assure you I will continue to press for the need to restore sense and humanity to our immigration system, including getting a handle on fees.