Aclearly frustrated Roger Gale told the Bulletin last night that he is going to fight until the end to ensure that expatriate Britons living within the EU receive the exportable benefits Brussels has ruled they are entitled to despite the government's out right refusal to comply with European Union law and a European Court of Justice ruling.
During a special Adjournment Debate in Westminster on the exportable benefits situation yesterday, Jonathan Shaw MP, a junior Minister at the Department for Works and Pensions, made it clear that the government's bellicose 26/52 week ruling falls within the law, despite the European Commission having informed the government last year that it breaches European Social Security laws, and that it is not going to climb down.
Roger Gale, the Conservative MP for Thanet North who is leading the battle on behalf of an estimated 3'000 expatriate Britons which have been denied their exportable benefits, said that the European Commission is now going to take the Labour government back to the ECJ European Court of Justice over its 26/52 claims but that could slow the process down for another two years. This law is all very well for people leaving to live abroad now and spend at least half of the year in Britain but there are still thousands of Britons, many frail, elderly and dying who had their benefits cut off when they moved abroad - which the European Court of Justice ruled in 2007 was illegal. I was at least hoping for Labour to agree to back date some of the applications, especially in the serious case in which lives are at risk. But no. Shaw was extremely insensitive and yesterday's debate got rather heated when he was challenged by a Liberal Democrat Minister over why Britain is paying child benefit to over 35'000 children who have remained behind in Poland while one or both of their parents work in the UK. We are talking about British citizens, British passport holders who have paid taxes all their lives. So what if they have chosen to move abroad, said Gale.