Sir Roger Gale
Member of Parliament for North Thanet (Margate, Herne Bay & The Villages)
Government in breach of European Law - Debate (Tuesday, 12th January 09.30-11.00 Westminster Hall)
The House of Commons will tomorrow (Tuesday 12th January) debate the Government's breach of European Law as it applies to sickness benefits payable to ex-pat UK citizens now living within the European Union.
The adjournment debate, to be held in Westminster Hall, has been instigated by Roger Gale (Con. N. Thanet) who has been pursuing the rights of disabled ex-patriate citizens of the United Kingdom for some eighteen months.
"The European Court of Justice has very clearly ruled" says the MP "that Disability Living Allowance, Carers Allowance and related benefits are "sickness benefits" for the purposes of the law and, as such "exportable".
There are, we estimate, some 2-3,000 former UK citizens, most of whom have paid UK taxes throughout their working lives and some who have served their country in our armed forces, who are now living, chiefly in France and Spain, under straitened circumstances while being denied the benefits to which they are entitled.
The government has prevaricated for two years and has tried behind what is known as the 26/52 rule under which a claimant must have lived in the UK for 26 of the past 52 weeks to claim, in order to avoid payment. The European Commission has, notwithstanding a parliamentary letter sent under Gordon Brown's personal signature, deemed the 26/52 rule to be inapplicable had has commenced infringement proceedings against the government.
It is, frankly, offensive that our government should try to weasel out of a commitment to UK citizens who have served and paid their dues throughout their working lives and now, in old age and infirmity, need help. At the same time the same government, citing EU regulations as the justification, is paying out large some of money to the families of migrant EU workers who have paid little or no tax in the UK and while the families are still resident in their (EU) country of origin.
This government claims to abide by the law: this issue demonstrates that they do not do so if it does not suit them to do so.
The government has also refused to publish its response to the European Commission, citing "confidentiality" as its excuse. I trust that the debate will give MPs the opportunity to place this issue on the record and afford the Minister, even at this late stage,the chance to do the honourable thing and announce that the DWP will pay up the money owing, backdated, in full".