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Commonwealth War Graves Week: City MP pays tribute to sacrifices of Commonwealth veterans

Stephen Morgan MP has paid tribute to the sacrifices of Commonwealth veterans as the city marks Commonwealth War Graves Week.

The Portsmouth South MP has marked the sacrifice of Commonwealth veterans who are buried in the city, following the recent campaign victory to drop eye-watering fees for Commonwealth veterans who serve in our armed forces.

Commonwealth War Graves Week is the annual awareness week, run by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), which aims to encourage communities to come together and discover the World War heritage on their doorstep.

One of the memorials maintained by the CWGC in the city resides in Portsmouth Kingston Cemetery, honouring 9 Commonwealth veterans who gave their lives, among hundreds of other UK service personnel.

One Commonwealth soldier remembered at the CWGC Kingston Cemetery is Canadian Private Vernon Taylor, who died at the tender age of 22. Private Taylor served in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, R.C.I.C.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“On Commonwealth War Graves Week, we pay tribute to those from across the Commonwealth who made the ultimate sacrifice to serve and protect others.

“We must never forget the human cost to so many Commonwealth nations during both world wars, and honour their incredible bravery during such a difficult period.”

The City MP and former Shadow Armed Forces Minister has been a tireless campaigner for the rights and interests of Commonwealth veterans, including leading Labour’s amendments to the Armed Forces Bill, pushing for the controversial £2,389 Commonwealth UK Visa fee to be scrapped.

Despite voting against the amendments down at the time, government climbed down in February and waived the visa fees, after mounting pressure.

The Portsmouth MP, added:

“Overseas personnel continue to make an enormous contribution to the UK and global peace and security, so it’s only right they should face as few barriers as possible to reside in the country they defended.

“But government should not have been dragged kicking and screaming to arrive at this common-sense decision, which myself, parliamentary colleagues and many service charities called for some time. I’m delighted to have played a small part in securing this important victory for Commonwealth veterans.”

However, some UK veterans are pushing for government to now go further.

David McMullen of Citizenship 4 Soldiers, said:

“I served in Afghanistan with Commonwealth soldiers. They fought alongside me in exactly the same way as British nationals, and I don’t see why they should be treated any differently.

“Labour’s amendments to the Armed Forces Bill worked alongside our campaign to force the government to act and Ministers’ announcement in February was an important campaign victory, but this must now expand to cover family members.

“The fees have massively increased since they were introduced in 2003. Some have to get second jobs if they want to bring family members over, or are simply priced out of being able to stay in the UK.

“It’s time for Ministers to put their money where their mouth is, and deliver on their support for these veterans.”