Thursday, March 24, 2011

Migration of OAPS- August 2010

The statistics of the numbers of British Old Age Pensioners in August 2010 have recently been published (March 2011).
The numbers in France, Spain, Italy, Germany Greece and Cyprus have increased as follows.
The first figure is for May 2010, the second for August 2010. The increase and % increase is in brackets.
  • France    51,810 > 53,200   (+1390 --- 2.6%   APR  >10.4%)
  • Spain      99,080 > 100,540 (+1460 --- 1.4%   APR    >5.6%)
  • Italy        37,200 > 37,630   (+430  --- 1.1%   APR    >4.4%)
  • Germany 36,800 > 37,420   (+550  --- 1.4%   APR    >5.6%)
  • Cyprus    17,000 >  17160   (+160 ---  0.9%   APR    >3.7%)
  • Greece     4,890  > 5,090     (+200  --- 4.0%   APR   >16.0%! but figures are low and therefore not meaningful)
The % of all British OAPs that live outside of the UK is 9.37%. -- 3.4% live in Continental Europe and Ireland (i.e. Europe beyond the UK)
Click on the graph to view full size. To return click on < symbol on your screen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pensioners-Broken Faith

The article below  [written by one of the readers of this blog]  reflects on the steely lack of compassion, understanding and honour amongst those who formulate rules in Whitehall. It should not be necessary for the very elderly to fight for what is, to any logical mind, obvious justice.

'The King's Speech’ War Veterans and The Big Society
by Dr.Sylvia Moore, 19 March 2011

A bound edition of the book ‘Broken Faith’ was delivered to Downing Street on 16 December 2010 by the International Consortium of British Pensioners, (ICPB) where it was presented to Pensions Minister Stephen Webb.

In ‘Broken Faith’ 104 war veterans who served across the globe in defence of His Majesty’s Government describe their service records. Yet, because they live abroad in countries where their pensions are frozen, they are among the half million pensioners denied their right to a basic state pension. The veterans were ready to return their service medals such was their feelings of betrayal. They were the men and women who responded to George VI’s famous speech broadcast on 3 September 1939, rallying British citizens at home and overseas to meet the challenge to preserve justice, peace and liberty in the face of ‘the primitive doctrine that might is right which would keep the people of the world in the bondage of fear’.

‘The King’s Speech’ was the centre piece of the recent award winning film, a budget blockbuster hitting big times with 7 Bafta awards followed by Oscar awards on 28 February 2011 for best actor, best film, best director best screenplay, but what about best war veterans alive today living in the King’s former dominions and elsewhere overseas?

Like them, best actor Colin Firth playing George VI, is a global citizen supporting many worthy causes - Survival International, fair immigration policies, eco industries; and he set up a film and political activism website, along with his Italian wife film director Livia Giuggioli. His grandparents were missionaries in Asia, his parents brought up in India, his father taught history in Nigeria where Colin lived as child and he dreamed of going to the North Pole. His grandmother’s precise pre-war English diction helped him in his role to utter precisely George VI’s speech :

‘In this grave hour, perhaps the most fateful in our history, I send to every household of my peoples both at home and overseas this message spoken with the same depth of feeling for each one of you as if I were able to cross your threshold and speak to you myself…..For the sake of all that we hold dear; the hope of peace, justice and liberty, it is unthinkable that we should refuse to meet the challenge. It is to this high purpose that I now call my people at home and my people across the seas who will make our cause their own…. ready for whatever service or sacrifice it may demand.’

Just after the Oscar awards, David Cameron relaunched his Big Society on 1 March at Somerset House, London, saying that it was not a cover up for cuts though they had to be made across board. The Big Society was a new approach to further inclusive social and economic recovery whether ‘public spending was up, flat or down’. It would involve civil society organisations, more decentralisation, and more autonomy in partnership with the state to bring real power and entrepreneurship to the social sector. Will Mr Cameron include the war veterans in the Big Society and cross their thresholds with the same depth of feeling as George VI to give them back ‘all that we hold dear’? He would surely commend them as the ‘bravest of the brave’, as he said of the armed forces he sent off today to set up the no fly zone across Libya.

See p 2 ‘A veteran’s experience at Downing Street – Reflections on the Medals Campaign’
by Bernard Jackson published in JUSTICE for Expatriate British Pensioners Issue 1, 2011
For further information visit and contact John Markham, International Consortium of British Pensioners Director UK Parliamentary Affairs

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Action for Votes

ACTION FOR VOTES to the Westminster Parliament
(updated 3rd April 2011)
 Items about votes crowd in. We seem to be getting close to achieving the objective of extending the voting powers of expatriates.
In the House of Lords on 2nd March there was a debate [To change the voting arrangements for expatriates]- 
to view H-L-2-March-11.doc This Hansard report indicates that Mark Harper MP (Forest of Dean) and Parliamentary Secretary for Political and Constitutional Reform is informed. [I am grateful to the Labour International Organisation for sending me the Hansard report - The expatriate branches of the two main political parties are collaborating on this matter.]
This is important because:-
A Government which considers itself the arbiter of the grant of the vote, is treating the 'citizen' as a 'subject' - a form of servility. Whereas the true position of Government should be as a servant of the citizens.
It is for this reason that a change in the law is an essential commencement of a change in the relationship between the British Citizen in Europe and the British Government.
The elements of the matter.
1. Mr. Harper appears to be minded to introduce a bill which will remove the 15 year cut off for expatriates (everywhere or just Europe? - we do not know, though it should be a inalienable right for all British Citizens ).
2. Incidentally to this- Mr. Harry Schindler ( a British National who now lives in Italy but fought in the army through Italy in 1944- see the links given below) sought a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights ECHR on the 15 year ruling [i.e. no franchise after 15 years abroad].   The latest information is via the link below
The outcome is hopefully  nearing sucess.
The ECHR has requested of the UK a response to certain questions.
The weighty argument for a change has been laid out!

Mr. Schindler's story can be followed in the following links.

3. On 16th March there was a request for a judicial Review brought by James Preston on the same issue.  It is understood that the arguments will be heard in the autumn.

4. Contrary to this, there is considerable body of ignorant opinion in the UK ( and previously among MPs and Peers) which seems to imagine that we expatriates have no interest in the UK. Mr Harper would have to face this confrontation and he needs our support to confound that opinion.
5. We must give Mr. Harper all the support possible.

6. Below, I suggest a framework letter to Mr. Harper. If we do not push hard at this time, we may not get another opportunity.
7. In the House of Lords debate, it is mentioned that the UK constituency base for votes for expatriates is often not helpful to them and is a reason why some/many do not use the short term vote which they have. You may wish to develop this thought  and the following in your letter.
    The existing process of voting by post allows almost no time at all  (one week) for the papers to arrive and then to be returned.  Proxy voting is not secret and can easily be abused. 

If the case is won, then other benefits may well follow:- on health costing; the freedom to move in Europe without direct or indirect restrictions on banking, investments and social security benefits; the smoothing out of double taxation rules; the standardisation of the £ versus the Euro (like Denmark, where the Krone is still the currency). One would have an MP to whom to take your concerns. You could be truly British AND truly European- eventually- if this push succeeds. Failure to take the opportunity could lead to the UK seceding from Europe if Eurosceptic attitudes persist. This little act of extending the vote is not in itself important, but in changing the outlook of fortress Britain, it is!
You yourself may not wish to vote, but a change in the law to give us the vote for life is perhaps like pushing at the political log-jam. It could bring in its wake an understanding of Europe which has been lacking in the UK. I have written various 'essays' on the UK attitude (refer to the INDEX of the blogsite). In the 1920's people retired to Bournemouth Bexhill or Blackpool. Now in 2011 the destination is often France, Spain or Italy. The continental countries are no longer foreign places. The British diaspora in Europe (and the world) is important to the policies (the interests) of Britain. British people need to be able to relocate in Europe without hindrance and to take with them the spirit of Britain and the certain understanding that we have the support of the British Government and that we can in turn relate to that Government. It should be no more difficult to retire to Montpellier today than it was to retire to Torquay in the '30s.
Today 9.73% of all British State pensioners live outside the UK. Even in the current financially difficult times in which the value of the £ has dropped more than 25%, the pensioners continue to move to the continent.

The framework letter.

Dear Mr. Harper,
I learn [from the Pensioners Debout blog site], that you are possibly minded to introduce a bill before parliament extending the vote to expatriates beyond the current 15 years, at least for those who live in the EU. It should be a natural Right, for life.

I feel strongly that this should come about.
(here is included a variety of reasons - you may well have you own list)
I am a UK pensioner.
The UK is the State responsible for our health costs because of EU laws. Health laws of the EU/UK are important to us.
Treaties involving the EU (and our country of residence in the EU) and the UK are of enormous importance to us, and yet we cannot give an opinion on them.
As an (ex-teacher/ fireman/ soldier etc) we are still British taxpayers.
The UK provides our OAP.
Our savings are through UK establishments. We have a bank account in the UK.
Our grandchildren are at school in the UK. Our children live in England and we are in almost daily communication by internet and telephone.
We are as aware through TV and the Internet of British Life as one could be in the UK

Yours sincerely....

It would be helpful to word your own letter, stating your own personal experience/reasons. I urge that one is always courteous- and as brief as possible. Mr. Harper is aware that although you are urged to write, you do so with your own conviction. Circular letters and petitions do not have an immense value.
I strongly emphasise that your support is necessary.

If you have not already done so, PLEASE WRITE an email to

If you copy to (Bcc) it would help. You can circulate this information as you wish.
You could also inform your own MP, if you have one.

An additional note -  It is my view that the Consulates could be used to receive both postal votes and secure internet votes. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Britons going home?

The Department of Works and Pensions has produced a document to help those British Nationals who wish to return home.  It has been written for those who are returning from Spain.   It would also be helpful for those who are returning from France.  If you read it, simply read 'France' wherever the word 'Spain' is written.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Health in Europe

There is much more on this subject which can be accessed through CONCERN 1- which can be raised by going to the start of the blog under 'Concerns'.
 The EU Regulations which cover health are laid forth in the following regulations, which are here linked.

THE EU REGULATIONS:- The year of its formulation is given. The click note is the access point. They are all large and will take time to download.

1. The earliest EU Regulation 1408- date 1971, before the UK joined the EU in 1973. It lays down rules for Social Security. Click.

Each EU Regulation has a twin Implementing Regulation which states how the basic regulation is to be implemented.

2. Implementing Regulation for 1408-1971. 574-1972. click.

3. The above Regulation was modified, and superseded by 883- 2004. It was not brought into operation until May 1st 2010. Many ‘articles’ in the earlier regulation are copied in and some of the earlier are still operative. click

4. The implementing Regulation for number 3 above is 987-2009. click

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Votes for Expatriates?

Below is an extract from Hansard sent to me by Mr. Harper, Parliamentary Secretary for Political and Constitutional Reform and also my representative in Partliament.  It appears, if opaquely, to be promising that a bill will be presented in Parliament giving votes to us - expatriates.
Do not hold your breath in waiting.  Yet this indicates a move forwards.  As I observed elsewhere on this site (please search via the Index)  the UK is almost alone in refusing to enfranchise the British Citizen in the EU for life!  
At present it ceases after 15 years.  I have had a several exchanges with Mr. Harper on this matter.
You may note that unless the law is changed we who live beyond the shores of the UK will be less favoured than prisoners in the jails of the UK, some of whom will undoubtedly get the vote soon.
If you feel you can add pressure for pushing this change forward, I give you Mr. Harper's address below.  I urge any correspondents to be always courteous.  It is too easy to allow angry impatience to colour one's words.
Mr. Mark Harper House of Commons London, SW1A 0AA
Mr Harpers email address is:-

It is important that you make known your feeling that we British deserve recognition. The French in the UK have votes... and the  Spanish.... Poles.... Italians....  ....   ....
We are overlooked in so many matters.. If we had the vote then we may be more considered.
By the way, the voting on the referendum about the Alternative Voting system is on May 5th.  This is open to all expatriates who have left the UK less than 15 years ago.

Click on the extract below to view full size. To return, click 'esc'