By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
THE Conservative Party will announce this week that if it wins the forthcoming general election, it will pay exportable benefits to British expatriates living within the European Union.

Today, the Conservative MP for Thanet North, Roger Gale, will be pushing the government for an explanation over why it is continuing to ignore a European Court of Justice's notice to pay exportable benefits to those entitled overseas during a special debate in Westminster.

At the beginning of October, the European Commission ruled that the Labour government was infringing the law and a large number of MPs, representing constituents who are being denied their exportable benefits, will today demand a response from the government as to why it is continuing to ignore the EU's threat of infringement proceedings.

The Bulletin reported on Saturday that the Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote to Roger Gale over Christmas stating that the government does not consider it is breaking any law.

But, as Gale told the House of Commons last year, the government's stance is threatening the lives of scores of frail and elderly British residents living within the European Union.

Today, the Bulletin can reveal that the Conservative Party's line is that it will comply with European Law which states that Disability Living Allowances and Carer's Allowances are “sickness benefits” and therefore exportable.

Disability Living Allowance - sometimes referred to as DLA - is a tax-free benefit for children and adults who need help with personal care or have walking difficulties because they are physically or mentally disabled.

On the government's website it states: “You may get Disability Living Allowance if: n you have a physical or mental disability, or both n your disability is severe enough for you to need help caring for yourself or you have walking difficulties, or both

you are under 65 when you claim

If you are aged 65 or over, you may be able to get Attendance Allowance.
The Carer's Allowance is a taxable benefit to help people who look after someone who is disabled. You do not have to be related to, or live with, the person that you care for.

And, on the government's website it states: “You may be able to get Carer's Allowance if you are aged 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a person who gets either:

Attendance Allowance

Disability Living Allowance at the middle or highest rate for personal care

Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

Constant Attendance Allowance at the basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension.
The situation for hundreds of British expatriates entitled to exportable benefits should become clearer during this morning's debate which is expected to be attended by between 40 and 50 MPs.

If it fails to cover any new ground, Roger Gale is going to take the campaign direct to Brussels.

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