The minutes of the 15 November All Party Parliamentary Group on Frozen British Pensions (APPG) have now been made available. Some salient points:
- John Markham, Chair of the International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP) was the guest speaker and referred to research commissioned by the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners regarding the partial uprating option, apparently in response to discussions Sir Oliver Letwin MP had had with the Office for Budget Responsibility.
- Sir Roger Gale MP, APPG chair, said there was widespread fear in the EU about the effect of Brexit on UK pensioners living there and that some were relocating back to UK. He thought Letwin the possibly best source of advice as to how to proceed.
- Vice chair Ian Blackford MP lamented the lack of any developments in Parliament since the May debate.
- Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP suggested that success with the Votes for Life Bill would be critical to breaking the log jam on the frozen pension issue as it would significantly expand the number of overseas voters. I have noted comments on social media saying that the disenfranchised writing to MPs can be a fruitless exercise. Clifton-Brown said that the government was aiming to get 1 million further British residents to register to vote by 2020.
- Lord German proposed that the ICBP coordinate the tabling of oral and written questions in both houses to keep the subject alive.
- In response to Blackford’s suggestion of a Select Committee taking evidence on the issue Sir Roger undertook to speak to Hilary Benn, chair of the Brexit Select Committee..
In other news the ICBP have developed their own petition at www.pensionjustice.org, Earlier this week there were over 3,000 signatures. At 10,000 signatures the Government will respond, and if there are 100,000 signatures the UK Government will debate the petition. The petition expires on 25th January 2017. You will see that the petition refers specifically to EU resident pensioners but the more concern expressed on such pensioners can presumably only assist with other expatriates. Well over half of those signing in the last week or so are from Canada. If you sign please ensure you respond to the confirmation email to register the signature. I note a social media comment that this confirmation mail may go to your junk mail folder although I did not have that problem.
British Pensions in Australia Inc is pressing hard for the frozen pension issue to be pursued in tandem with the talks Theresa May is wanting on a free trade deal with Australia.