After much lobbying and cajoling by Labour International, Ed Miliband’s office has issued the following statement to Brian Cave of Pensioners Debout
Not as positive as we might have wished but at least an acknowledgement of the issue. Mention of the Ten-Minute Rule Bill suggest that Labour MPs might not vote against it. However, it is number 15 on the list of Bills and may well not be debated. If my understanding is correct it will go through ‘on the nod’ unless one single MP voices an objection and then it will fall.

The statement:

As you know, British expats who have been resident and registered to vote in the fifteen years prior to an election are eligible to vote in elections for the UK Parliament and the European Parliament as long as they are registered as an overseas voter.
We appreciate that there have been calls for this 15-year rule to be relaxed or abolished in Britain and that this is supported by some expats who are currently unable to vote in UK elections or are at risk of losing their right to vote in upcoming elections. We also recognise that a number of other countries do allow permanent voting rights for expats.
The voting rights of British citizens is, of course, an extremely important issue and we agree this should be looked at carefully. As you say in your letter, a Ten Minute Rule Bill – the UK Overseas Voters (15 Year Rule) Bill – has been introduced to Parliament and proposes to legislate for permanent voting rights for British expats. The Bill is now scheduled to receive its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 6th March.
Labour hopes this Bill will provide an opportunity for the House of Commons to debate this issue and consider the merits and demerits of the current 15-year rule.
We also believe we need to do more to encourage all citizens – expats and those registered in the UK – to register to vote. It is welcome that the Electoral Commission has set a target of getting 100,000 more overseas voters registered before the next General Election. The introduction of online registration also means it is now easier than ever for Brits abroad to register to vote. It remains important, though, that the Government continue to look into other ways of engaging British citizens abroad to register and participate in elections.

Authorship email: A Williams, office of Ed Miliband,

Zero UK Tax Allowance for Expats

The following is the text of an e-mail from the Branch Secretary published on this site recently:

From: Richard Smith
Hello All,
I am sure that, by now, you will be aware that the UK government is proposing to remove the tax allowances for UK citizens that are resident abroad. This will affect all those that have taxable income in the UK such as Government Pensions (retired Teachers, Nurses, Policemen, Firemen, Military personnel and other public servants) that are covered by the Double Taxation Treaty between the UK and France. It will also include those people with UK property that is rented out – tax payable in the UK.
The current allowance is £10,000 rising to £10,500 later this year – the UK government is proposing to reduce this to zero. This means that you will pay UK tax on every penny of your pension or rental income.
The government is consulting on this proposal The– see link below – which closes on October 9th. Section 7 contains a number of questions and you can reply to as many as are relevant to you.

Unfortunately the consultation period has now ended. However, you can find out the outcome of the public feedback by visiting the Government web page – <HERE>.

We will post helpful comments on the Goverment decision as soon as we know and this will be one of the items on our next branch meeting agenda.

Withdrawal of WFA

The withdrawal of Winter Fuel Allowance has angered many people who have retired to live in a European country which may be warmer in summer, but is often colder in the winter than the South West area of England and has prompted I.L. North West France branch members, Dorothy Green and Eric Green to send an e-mail to HM Treasury for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.  The e-mail and the Treasury reply are posted below :

From: Eric Laurence Green
Sent: 01 July 2013 16:11
Subject: Winter Fuel Payment

Dear Chancellor of the Exchequer,
Did you study Geography when in your school days ? Have you any conception of the size of France and the variation of winter temperatures across this huge country. We live in the Charente where the winter climate is generally very cold in the winter….ice, snow, gales…..that sort of thing. We do not live in the south on the Mediterranean coast sipping champagne as you like to characterise us. Certainly it is often much colder at that time of the year than in most of England.

If you think the correct criterion for WFP is temperature then you must insist on (continuing) that payment to us. You clearly have little regard, if any, for British citizens living in France and we must say it is very sad too to see how happy you are to cloud important issues with outrageous propaganda rather than speak the truth……reminds us of a gentleman by the name of Adolf……but then you’re too young to remember ! Perhaps you missed out on History as well as Geography.

Yours faithfully,

Eric L Green B.Sc.(London)
Dorothy S Green M.A.(Oxon)

Treasury reply :

From: Enquiries, CEU – HMT [Restricted]
Sent: Tuesday, July 02, 2013 11:05 AM
To: ericlgreen
Subject: [UNCLASSIFIED] RE: Winter Fuel Payment

Dear Mr Eric L. Green and Mrs Dorothy S. Green,
I am writing on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government to thank you for your email of 1 July.

Ministers are always keen to receive feedback from people up and down the country, so it is very good of you to take the time to write and to let them have your views. Please rest assured that the contents of your letter have been registered by the Treasury.

Thank you, once again, for taking the trouble to write to us with your views.