The Roman Empire, Mr. Speaker, rewarded all its auxiliaries with citizenship after twenty-five years' service. They were soldiers to whom the Empire owed a debt of gratitude, as they fought with loyalty for the empire of their birth.Like the Romans, Mr. Speaker, we owe all our armed forces a debt of gratitude for risking their lives in our defence. The Prime Minister himself recognises this week by week as he offers his condolences to the families of those whose risk has turned into reality.And like the Romans, Mr. Speaker, we have a group of auxiliaries who risk their lives, fight fiercely and loyally, and to whom we are indebted. They are the Gurkhas. Our government is offering the mere right to live here after twenty years' service, a term which most Gurkhas do not serve. Can it really be the case that the British government is less humane than the Roman Empire?
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Today's PMQ that I would ask comes with a long historical background. The Roman Empire famously had two categories of soldier: the legionaries, who were free-born citizens, and the auxiliaries, who were not. The latter served for twenty-five years, and at the end of their service, were rewarded with citizenship. Essentially, the Empire was accepting of foreigners born within its borders, offering an opportunity for them to work and serve their way out of their tribes and into citizenship.Now, the Roman Empire was hardly a bed of roses, even at its more liberal and humane. We like to think in the UK that we are better than that, and yet this nation's own auxiliary force must serve for twenty years to gain citizenship, when most of its soldiers only serve for fifteen. My question to the Prime Minister, then, would be this: