Hugo calls for housing debate

THE leader of the House of Commons was challenged over an Exmouth war hero and his young family, forced to live in barracks because of a lack of council housing.

Lance Cpl Paul Baker, 25, and his wife Michelle were born and bred in Exmouth - and they want to return to where they went to school, got married and where he signed up.

Paul was medically discharged after serving in Iraq; and, with their young son, wants to come back - but they are not considered a housing priority, although the district council has listed them in its gold band, alongside more than 700 others.

East Devon MP Hugo Swire wants more money to house returning personnel who have been injured and said to the Leader of the House, Harriet Harman: ""Although it was most welcome to hear the Chancellor announcing £50 million...to upgrade the homes of our armed forces personnel...what he did not address...is our responsibilities to members of our armed forces returning to the communities in which they grew up, particularly when they have been medically discharged...

""The Leader of the House may be aware...of the case of a constituent of mine, Lance Corporal Paul Baker, who has been unable to find accommodation in East Devon.""

He quoted Paul who said ""You join up, serve your country and expect you will be allowed to come back to live where you grew up - then you find you're not allowed.""

Paul is based at Bulford Camp but, because of a change in the law, it is Salisbury District Council's responsibility to house him, not East Devon District Council's: ""Will the Leader of the House agree to a debate in Government time so that we can look at...additional resources to provide accommodation for our returning armed forces personnel who have been discharged in that way?""

Mr Swire told The Journal: ""In the modern age, service personnel should be properly cared for.

""It's an important broader discussion on how we treat the members of our armed forces who have served their country and have had to leave...because of injury or illness.

""This is not a unique case - there are service people discharged up and down the country in a similar situation and local authorities who simply don't have the housing stock.""

Ms Harman said: ""There are major issues relating to housing...perhaps he should seek a meeting with a relevant Minister...""

Paul said he was 'pleased' that, for the sake of his fellow service personnel and his own family, the matter had been raised - because he feared that 'nobody cared' about injured veterans.