M.P.'s for Ex-Pats? Discussion on the Today Programme

Yes David, kind of ditto because my wife is Swiss and her country joined Shengen but not the EU she shares many of the rights I have BUT she has no vote at all here because her country is not EU. Rehash Schengen and where does she stand as well. I have three Swiss family members and could have permanent residency there but would be dotty or dead by the time I would have enough years there to become Swiss. Anyway, she does not want to live there either. So quo vadis? We both dislike England too much to even think about it, so not much choice really...

That's fine Brian, just don't sign the epetition.

One has to think about the proposal to rethink Schengen which may affect may expats in ways that thus far have not been on the agenda. I'm married to a Schengen visa holder with a Carte Sejour. We have a British child. My wife may well be denied the right to live in France if the negotiations go that way. She has a job and has been fully involved in the French system but I am retired and have never worked in France. I for one don't want to have to go back to the UK and I would prefer to vote here for all elections if I can't after 15 years after leaving the UK. I stood as a candidate here at the last Municipales too, and got quite a few votes off our Breton neighbours, but that's another story!

I will write to Lipsey too in the next few days. His attitude is pretty similar to most parliamentarians in the UK in that they generally think of all British expats along the lines of a Somerset Maughan idea. All catamites or native girls, gin and langour! Of course that's why I'm here too (second option)!

Hi Jane, this isn't something I've thought of before as all my working life has been spent in France so I've not got any interests in the UK. My argument has always been shouldn't I get a vote in France if I contribute to the system? I can see that anyone in the situations mentioned above should get some representation surely? After all, it's the UK that makes the decisions that affect those that have contributed and are due state pensions etc and yet they get no representation? I think a lot of countries need to review how they treat people's voting rights, France and the UK included.

Every British expatriate has a local voice in their commune. That is to say they can influence matters concerning local affairs. I would also add (from personal experience) that even at Département level the elected people will listen to us, even though one has no official representation.

Concerning those who receive the British State Retirement Pension, unless they have also been a contributor to the French Social Security system, then the Institution which is the the 'competent institution' under EU regulations, for the support of their Social Security is the NHS. It is for this reason that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is issued to them from the UK. In 2007 France required the UK to pay 5072 euros per head for all the British Pensioners in France. Four years later this will be more and the total this year will top 344 million euros from the Britsih exchequer to the French Government.

If Britain were to fall out of the EU in consequence of some referendum vote in the UK, then the consequences could become dire. The worst scenario would be that British expatriate would be classed as non-EU immigrants. Social care support financially for pensioners would cease.

Remember that younger expatriates would also lose their rights as EU citizens. people will remember the antipathy towards the 'Roma', and history has shown that antipathy is easily roused against those whom are perceived as different. It seems so obvious to me that we need a British Government prepared to listen to our needs.

Those who see themselves as almost wholly French could take out dual nationality (should they not? ). It is a lengthy process of some years, as the French State inquire into your background, but I am told is free. If you perceive as British then it must mean you have some loyalty to the British Nation. Should you not take some interest in its performance?

I have given much thought to these matters and eventually produced a discussion paper (note the word 'discussion' )which has been circulated to certain politicians in Westminster. It can be read at http://lefourquet.net/Representationv5.doc

I have a wider 'blog' site which covers a huge amount of material relevant to the expatriate pensioner at..


Well done for you.

Here is a copy of an e-mail I sent to the Lipsey man.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Lord Lipsey

House of Lords



Dear Lord Lipsey,

I heard your interview this morning on the Today programme and I was appalled to hear you use the reasoning that Mr Cave should not vote in UK elections, after being an expat for more than 15 years, because he did not pay tax in the UK.

I think you should have come to the programme better prepared and not make the assumption that because he lived in France he did not pay tax in the UK.

All Government and Local Government pensions are taxed in the UK, also any houses owned by ex-pats and rented out in the UK have tax deducted at source.

Our SIPP pension is governed by the laws and restrictions imposed by the UK Government, are we too not to have a say in which government is in power?

To demolish another of your arguments, any ex-pat buying on-line from a British company pays VAT.

Ex-pats have a particular set of concerns and I think that the the French proposal is one that should be taken up by the British Government if it is to be the guardian of democracy that it purports to be.

Yours sincerely,

Jane Williamson

Have you seen that Keith Lacey has said that he would be prepared to start an epetition to enable us to have ex-pat M.P.'s. He has particular concerns in that he has been discriminated against by the french in his commercial activities. Perhaps you would like to get in touch with him, i.e. become a friend. I would be willing to get involved in this campaign also. I will add you as a friend.

Thank you Roy. I have accounts in the UK from when I was normally resident, Germany from when I lived there part time, Switzerland (post account at that) because my wife is Swiss and both children dual nationals and here in France. Of those the only country that is unhelpful, for instance transferring money to France, is the UK. I cannot go online and simply move from one account to another as I can with the others. Ironically I went to Barclays France after many years with them in the UK. I needed a large amount moved here and could not get it, so I used my Cambridge old boys network to get to the then CEO of Barclays to ask for a favour. I am lucky and privileged in being able to do so but why? I can move money from the Swiss post office to France, have paid in money to the same and now and again send a bit to the German account from here so that I can send a cheque to my German born son for his children's (my grand children's) savings accounts, etc. The money laundering rules are gross. I frequently work for UN agencies who pay me quite large but not enormous sums in dollars from Geneva or New York. The questions asked in case it is a dummy UN account paying me are absurd. France only asks if those are vast amounts of money. I have given up all dealings with other British companies, especially given the way they treat my wife who has been a tax payer and other contributions payer for some years but is not 'one of us'. They extort us with their charges too. I have nothing but contempt for what some of them are doing to people here. I cannot go to a French MP to complain about them though and have, in truth, nobody to turn to because the Swansea MP I have at present will let a letter from one absentee constituent stay at the bottom of the pile permanently. If a group of badly treated UK residents in France with a French MP went as a group with an issue then there would be action. That is the difference. Do you not agree Roy, because I suspect that is what you would to see.

I think we are going into fantasy realms here. If the UK and France have then is it not possible the other 25 member states would follow? Then, because they would be so busy talking to each other, they would have no time for us. Reciprocity is a great principle but it has limitations. It would also demand a lot more of those MPs than their workload would allow them to be capable of, then what is the point? Too many negatives for having UK MPs representing a dispersed electorate in this or any other country makes it an untenable proposition for me.


Brian, was it you that took part in the Today programme?

Disagree because there are the two different parties. If people are here to remain British without being there then that is their business. Apart from the pension issue there is really little else of real importance and that issue and political representation are not interdependent, so my point is on the latter rather than the pension.

If you have any idea of the exact numbers (and apparently unknown because vast numbers do not tell the UK they are no longer there) of all age groups then I see only tokenistic representation in Westminster by having 'dedicated' MPs. Representatives have 'surgeries' for constitutents, where on earth would one or two for France be based and why the heck should most of us traipse half way across a country for somebody who is in parliament out of self-interest (as too many are) to nod his or her a few times in feigned agreement with our issue and then know that with the X thousand other issues it is immediately dead? For what? I'd rather have a French representative I can really badger and hound if push comes to shove and if for some of us that means taking an interpreter then so be it.

We too pay taxes here, but we are a diverse bunch, we have no single voice.

There are many french-ex-pats living in the UK, so having dedicated M.P.'s in both countries would,hopefully, work on a reciprocal basis and they could at least talk to each other.

Here, here...

Look I am already 63 and what is left of my pension will be from the UK. P aid in there, so fair enough. I get nothing else though and pay taxes, etc here. It is about being represented for what is around me and not, as in my case, in Wales that is changing rapidly with power being devolved gradually away from Westminster. Plus being a Scot and possible independence within a few years. It needs to be choice perhaps BUT what on earth is the point of dedicated MPs in the UK for expats and what are the French doing it for anyway? Jerrymandering something I suspect again.

Brian, I think there are two different parties here, those who are financially dependent upon the UK because of pensions etc and those who are actively working in France, and although we would all like to have a say on how our french taxes are spent, for some of us the overriding concern is what will happen to our pensions, which we have worked for all our life.

If we had ex-pat M.P's to represent us, we would have a focus for our representation and not be dispersed among all the constituencies where we last voted.

The obvious answer governments would come up with is, if you want to vote then take up nationality. I know that people like and your family have ties in several countries and speal their languages and, maybe, this is something you should take up yourself.

I think we all need to try and protect our own interests and, ex-pat's and in particular pensioners have specific concerns, especially if they will lose any representation after 15 years.

Hi Johnny - you're not the only one - I haven't got a clue what's going on in the UK and that doesn't bother me, my life is 100% in France and that's where I'd like to vote and have my say...!

Quite so Brian.

The biggest problem, I believe, for ex-pats is the widespread discriminatory practices within the UK to the disadvantage of those ex-pats who are no longer resident. Your mention of the bank accounts that cannot be opened by non residents is but one example (without exception the banks have all given me the reason as being the Anti Money Laundering rules - absolute nonsense and the rules are risible anyway). What is worse in that particular instance is that virtually all UK based insurance companies I have come across insist on making payments such as pensions only into UK bank accounts - find the logic in that if you can!

There are countless examples of UK companies discriminating against non-residents and refusing to operate on the same terms as those given to UK residents - I thought that we were all supposed to be European and such practices of exclusion were illegal. Finding an elected representative from either the UK or one's country of residence would be akin to seeking the Holy Grail - I find it difficult to believe that anyone would have the courage to take on these large UK companies, to say nothing of the UK government, and force them to change their ways and end this discrimination (no doubt if it was done on a racial basis then much greater attention would be paid to the problem).

I agree Brian. There are those who want to be allowed to vote in their country of residence, not nationality, and I suspect that the simple answer to that is become, french, spanish or whatever. I also suspect that they are younger people, living and working in France and contributing to a pension in France.

Those of us who are financially dependent on pensions originating in the UK, or governed by rules originating in the UK have a totally different agenda.