By Humphrey Carter

CONSERVATIVE MPs, led by the Tory MP for Thanet North and close friend of Conservatives Abroad here in Majorca Roger Gale, will finally come face to face with the government to debate Gordon Brown's refusal to obey a European Union order to pay exportable benefits to British expatriates living within the European Union.

The exportable benefits movement yesterday issued a plea to all expatriates living within the EU to e-mail their MPs before Tuesday's debate in Westminster Hall, which has become the second chamber in the House of Commons, to ensure that the pro-payment group of MPs is represented as best as possible.

Even a number of Liberal Democrat MPs are expected to join the debate and demand a full explanation from the government why it continues to ignore the European Commission's directive which was issued last October serving notice to the government that it is in breach of the law for failing to pay exportable benefits, such as disability living allowance, to UK expatriates.

Roger Gale challenged the Prime Minister over the situation in Question Time last November and received a written reply from Brown just after Christmas.

Gale said yesterday that, according to the Prime Minister, the government maintains that its “26/52” rule complies with the European Law.
The 26/52 rule means that unless a British citizen has lived within the UK for 26 of the past 52 weeks, he or she is not entitled to exportable benefits and only has a limited period within which to appeal. “This is a clear infringement of the EU law, as the Commission clearly stated back in October,” Gale told the Bulletin yesterday afternoon. “We know that the Prime Minister and the Commission have been in contact over the issue of the EU's threat of infringement proceedings should the government continue to ignore the notice but the government is refusing to reveal the contents of the correspondence of the letters to elected Members of Parliament - they claim it is confidential - so I have asked our MEPs to lean on the Commissioner to release the letter,” he said.


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