Memorandum from the Gurkha International
Group of Companies
1. We are forwarding our comments on the
Green Paper by email following your recent telephone conversation
with Major A D O (David) Bredin of our Company.
2. Our Company was founded in 1994 by retired
British and Nepalese members of the British Army's Brigade of
Gurkkas to find employment for ex-British Army Gurkha Officers
and Soldiers with reputable employers worldwide. Our web site
is at www.gurkha.com.hk. We have offices as follows:
(a) EnglandGurkha International Manpower
Services Ltd, a company registered in England and Wales, with
offices in Newport, Staffs.
(b) Hong KongGurkha International
Manpower Services Ltd, a company registered in the British Virgin
Islands, and Gurkha International (Hong Kong) Ltd, a company registered
in Hong Kong.
(c) Kathmandu, NepalBritish Gurkha
Overseas Services (Private) Ltd, a company registered in Nepal.
3. Our Company's operations are:
(a) Provision of trained Nepalese Security
Officers and Ratings for international cruise company ships, including
those with British Flags or British owners (currently including
Princess P&O, Cunard Seabourn, Fred Olsen Lines, Sun Cruises,
Hebridean Island Cruises) and major foreign flagged or owned companies
(Star Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line,
Silversea Cruises, and others).
(b) Provision of Nepalese crew in other departments
of cruise ships and other ships, for instance laundry staff on
Her Majesty's fighting ships.
(c) Rental security services providing Nepalese
staff (unarmed guards and security consultancy) in Hong Kong.
(d) Security advice and training, security
and crime prevention services, and logistical support using Nepalese
(e) Provision of construction and technical
staff on rental or placement in Hong Kong and worldwide.
(f) Employment agency services for Nepalese
men and women in Hong Kong and worldwide.
4. Apart from the laundry service we provide
the Royal Navy through Worldwide Laundry Services, a Serco Denholm
joint venture, all our contracts so far have been with private
companies and individuals, and except in the one or two rare occasions
where our staff have been in dangerous and isolated locations
(such as in Africa) where weapons were available for local self
defence, all of our operations have been unarmed.
5. We believe we would fall within the scope
of the Green Paper's definition of Private Security Companies,
and, as such, would be subject to whatever regime was introduced.
6. We agree with the assessment in the Green
Paper (Paragraph 31) that there is a growing demand for security
services worldwide. Particularly since the events of 11 September
2001, in our major area of business, shipping, there has been
a marked increase in government regulatory activity in the security
area and in the security provisions of private companies. This
will continue as the threat will remain for the foreseeable future,
and as the attention of governments such as ours and that of the
US turns to terrorist use of cargo shipping, particularly container
shipping, and to illegal immigration using maritime means.
7. We believe that continued international
intervention in regions of instability, whether involving the
UN or national combinations, coupled with the continued decline
in the size of regular forces such as those of the UK, will mean
the "privatisation of peace" to a growing degree. This
will increase the requirement for both security staff and support
services, some armed, some unarmed, in inhospitable and dangerous
regions of the world.
Ban on Military Activity
8. We consider that this would be undesirable
(a) The industry is already international;
an outright ban would force it offshore, and make any current
(b) Foreign competition would fill any gap
thus created; such competition is likely to be unregulated and
less concerned with issues of ethics and standards than British
(c) The industry is a complex web of interests
and activities; our own operations cover many spheres; a ban might
endanger a large number of activities which are in no way problematic
for the sake of prevention of a small number of abuses.
(d) The industry provides legitimate employment
for a large number of British servicemen on retirement. In our
case, we provide employment for over 680 mostly ex-British Gurkha
soldiers, for whom there is little alternative employment other
than security anywhere. Since 1994, we have found employment for
over 3,000 Gurkhas. A ban would endanger their livelihoods.
Ban on Recruitment
9. We do not recruit in the United Kingdom,
its dependencies or colonies, at present. However, we may wish
to do so one day. We believe that this would be similar to a partial
ban on activity, and can see no point in banning recruitment if
activity itself was not banned.
10. We believe that Government regulation
would be beneficial to the industry as it would:
(a) Place knowledge of security activities
with the Government, and to some degree in the public domain.
Current lack of such knowledge leads to emotive but ill-informed
(b) Establish a register of companies recognised
by the Government as abiding by specified rules of conduct and
ethical considerations. We believe that for those companies there
would be distinct marketing advantages to such a system.
(c) Enforce ethical and politically acceptable
rules of conduct upon the industry. This can only be to its long-term
(d) Increase operational standards throughout
11. Our opinions of the options offered
in Paragraphs 73 to 76 of the Green Paper are:
(a) Licensing Individual Contracts. We believe
this would be too cumbersome to achieve, and involve civil servants
in assessments of conditions and operations in areas of which
they had no knowledge. This would be lengthy, costly, and inevitably
lead to lack of competitiveness against foreign firms. It might
also lead to objections by foreign governments if they were to
be parties to any contract. In addition, the Government would
find itself deluged with applications for licenses for a large
number of small and politically innocuous or uninteresting contracts
if sufficiently clear demarcation between contract types was not
made. We believe that such demarcation would be very difficult
(b) Registration and notification. We believe
this would be an easier regime to operate than licensing, but
that it would involve uncertainty in contractual relationships
which could lead to breach of contract problems were the Government
to decide to object after contracts had been signed. Similar problems
with time and competitiveness would be experienced as with licensing
if contract signing had to be delayed until the Government approval
had been obtained. Similar problems with Government review of
a large number of minor and uncontentious contracts would arise
as with licensing. We believe, however, that a provision for notification
of the Government of Contracts involving foreign governments would
be workable and even desirable.
(c) General licensing. We believe this the
best approach to the regulatory issue. It would allow such regulation
and supervision of security companies seeking inclusion upon an
approved list as would improve their standards without involvement
of the Government in individual contracts. We believe that, were
the issue of a general licence to be linked to acceptance and
adherence to codes of ethics and practice, this would have a beneficial
effect on the competitiveness of British companies. We also believe
that the rules for any such licensing should be written to be
sufficiently flexible to include all possible types of security
operations; this will need care given the wide spread of work
such as that undertaken by our Company. We believe, though, that
all companies should be included in the system no matter their
size; this will mean that costs will have to be low enough to
prevent damaging those companies with small or irregular incomes.
We believe that the industry should be involved in the drafting
of any licensing scheme, and are ready ourselves to participate
in this if called upon to do so.
(d) Self Regulation. We do not believe that
this is workable because:
(1) There is currently no body in the
industry which represents the interests of all parties.
(2) Small players are likely to find
that they are damaged competitively by regulations brought in
by any body which might come under the control of the larger players.
(3) Standards currently vary so greatly
that getting general acceptance of regulations will be very difficult.
(4) The industry has a record of some
very bad practices, which will not be eradicated by a body less
authoritative than the Government.
(5) The areas of work, and to a very
large degree the workforce employed, in the operations under consideration
are foreign. They therefore involve the national interest abroad
in issues of often a semi-political nature, and we believe that
it behoves the UK Government to ensure that the standards of its
companies in this field are acceptable. In particular, the possibility
of exploitation of workforces abroad is a very real one. Any self-regulatory
body based in the UK will not be in the position to detect, monitor
and solve any problems arising in remote areas of the globe. Only
HMG's Diplomatic Service is in a position to undertake these tasks.
If a self-regulatory body is established, High Commissions, Embassies
and Consulates abroad will find themselves doing its work for
it in any case.
12. We welcome the Government's initiative
in this area, and believe some form of Government regulation long-overdue
for the raising of ethical and operational standards. We urge
the adoption of General Licensing, and the consultation and participation
of interested parties in the formation of any regulatory regime.
We believe that any regulatory regime must be drafted sufficiently
widely to include all operations of the industry without restricting
their variety. We urge that the viability of the industry, particularly
its smaller members, not be damaged by the imposition of procedures
expensive in terms of finance of time.
13. We are ready to participate in any consultation
for a regulatory regime or body, and to appear before the Committee
if called upon to do so.
Gurkha International Group of Companies