Archive for novembre, 2011

Autumn 2011 Statement of Chancellor.

Mercredi, novembre 30th, 2011

Key messages
This Government will do whatever it takes to protect Britain from the debt storm, while doing all we can to build the foundation for future growth. The challenge facing our country is tougher than we hoped it would be. As a result of the failure to deal with their debts, much of Europe now appears to be heading into recession. The public know that promises of quick fixes and more spending this country can’t afford are like the promises of a quack doctor selling a miracle cure. We do not offer that today.

Instead we will show Britain has the will to live within its means, in order to protect confidence in our economy and keep interest rates low. There are no changes to the spending totals for the next three years, and we will act to stay on course to meet our debt and deficit targets. Lower growth means we need to take tough decisions to control future spending.These include two more years of fiscal consolidation, further restraint on public sector pay, savings on tax credits and a rise in the state pension age. In the future these savings will help put our finances on a sustainable footing. But until 2014-15 every single pound saved will be spent on measures to support growth and improve fairness.

We will invest in our infrastructure and education, so that Britain can earn its living in the future. There will be £30 billion of private and public investment in roads and railways, high-speed broadband networks, science labs and free schools. We will have an active enterprise policy to help businesses expand and create jobs, with a £20 billion National Loan Guarantee Scheme, new tax breaks for investment in start-ups and cuts to red tape. We will help families and young people by doubling the number of children who will receive free nursery care, and investing nearly £1 billion to help young people get jobs and training.

And at every opportunity this Government will help families with the cost of living. The plan for next year was that fuel duty would be 3 pence higher in January than it is now and 5 pence higher than it is now in August. Instead we will scrap altogether the increase planned for January and ensure that in August fuel duty will only rise by 3 pence. So fuel duty will be frozen for nineteen months in total. From April petrol duty will be a full 10 pence lower than it would have been without our action in the Budget and this autumn. Families will save £144 on filling up the average family car by the end of next year.

This Government has a plan to deal with our nation’s debts. We are determined to support businesses and support jobs, and we are committed to taking Britain safely through the storm.

Forecasts and fiscal targets

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility has significantly downgraded their short-term growth forecasts for the UK and the world. They expect GDP to grow by 0.9 per cent this year and 0.7 per cent next year, followed by 2.1 per cent growth in 2013, and 2.7 per cent growth in 2014.

The OBR explain that this downgrade is due to a number of shocks to the UK economy:

· higher than expected inflation, due to a sharp increase in global commodity prices, is the reason why the economy has grown more slowly than expected since the June 2010 Budget;

· the crisis in the euro area has increase instability and uncertainty, which has affected household and business spending, and led to tighter credit conditions across the world;

· most significantly for medium term growth, the full scale and impact of the 2008-09 financial crisis has become clearer – the OBR conclude that the boom was bigger, the bust deeper and the effects of the crash will last longer than previously thought.

These are tough challenges. The question today is – do you deliberately add even more to spending and borrowing? Or does your Government have the resolve to deal with the debt and deficit?

Our plan is clear – we will tackle the debt. Today the OBR confirms that we will meet our fiscal mandate. The current structural deficit is forecast to go from 4.6 per cent of GDP this year, to a current surplus of 0.5 per cent in five years time. It won’t be eliminated in this Parliament, but it will be eliminated within our mandate. Debt is set to peak at 78 per cent in 2014-15 and will be falling by the end of Parliament.

Under this Government borrowing will fall and debt will come down – not as quickly as we wished because of the weaker economy, but meeting our budget rules nonetheless.

Labour’s alternative

Labour’s absurd suggestion is that if we borrow more, we will spend less. If we had followed their spending plans by 2014-15 we would still be borrowing over £100 billion a year – and Britain would have borrowed an additional £100 billion pounds in total over the Spending Review.

Failing to deal with the debt would jeopardise our low interest rates. Last April our market interest rates were higher than Italy’s. Now Italy’s rates are 7.3 per cent and ours are less than 2.5 per cent.

A 1 per cent rise in our market interest rates could add £10 billion to mortgage bills each year – the average family with a mortgage would pay an extra £1,000. The cost of business loans would rise by £4 billion. Taxpayers would have to find £26 billion more in debt interest payments. These sums would dwarf any extra government spending or borrowing funded tax cuts.

Unlike Labour, this Government is not prepared to risk the solvency of the British economy or the security of British families.

Measures in the Autumn Statement

Measures to protect the economy include:

· Committing to two more years of fiscal consolidation – total expenditure will fall by 0.9 per cent a year in real terms in 2015-16 and 2016-17, same growth rate as set out for existing period of the Spending Review.

· Setting public sector pay awards at an average of 1 per cent for each of the two years after the current pay freeze comes to an end. Departmental budgets will be adjusted in line with the policy, with the exception of the Health and schools budgets, where savings will be recycled.

· Raising the State Pension age to 67 between April 2026 and April 2028.

· Adjusting the allocation of Official Development Assistance in line with the OBR’s revised growth forecast, still meeting the 0.7 per cent of GNI target in 2013.

· Not going ahead with the planned £100 above inflation increase to the child element of the Child Tax Credit by more than inflation, and not up rating the couple and lone parent elements of the Working Tax Credit in 2012-13, to ensure that the welfare system remains affordable.

These measures will reduce spending permanently in the medium and long-term. In the short term the Government will use the savings to support balanced economy growth, infrastructure investment, social mobility and helping young people find work.

Measures to support infrastructure include:

· Using savings from current spending in this Spending Review to fund £5 billion of additional infrastructure spending over the next three years, alongside £1 billion of new private sector investment in regulated industries support by government guarantee.

· Committing to £5 billion of capital projects in the next spending review.

· Signing a Memorandum of Understanding with UK pensions fund to support up to £20 billion of new private sector investment in UK infrastructure.

· Increasing the Regional Growth fund for England by £1 billion, plus Barnett consequentials for the devolved administrations.

A list of infrastructure projects in each region is included in the next section of this brief.

Measures to support enterprise include:

· Introducing a £20 billion National Loan Guarantee Scheme to get cheaper loans to businesses.

· Creating a new £1 billion Business Finance Partnership fund, to invest in smaller and mid-sized businesses through non-bank channels.

· Launching a new Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) from April 2012, offering 50 per cent income tax relief on investment, and a capital gains tax exemption on gains realised in 2012-13 and then invested through SEIS.

· Offering 100 per cent capital allowances for the Enterprise Zones in Sheffield, the Black Country, Liverpool, Tees Valley, North Eastern and Humber.

· Introducing an ‘above the line’ tax credit in 2013 to encourage R&D activity.

· Extending the small business rate relief holiday for a further six months.

· Calling for evidence on the proposal to introduce compensated no fault dismissal for businesses with fewer than 10 employees.

Measures to support education:

· Investing an extra £600 million to fund an additional 100 Free Schools by the end of this Parliament, including new specialist maths Free Schools.

· Investing an additional £600 million to deliver 40,000 new classroom places.

Measures to support fairness include:

· Freezing fuel duty, by deferring the 3.02 pence per litre fuel duty increase due to take effect on 1 January 2012 to 1 August 2012; the second increase planned for 1 August 2012 will be cancelled.

· Limiting the increase to Transport for London fare and regulated rail fares to RPI plus one per cent for one year from 2012.

· Increasing the rate of the Bank Levy to ensure it raises at least £2.5 billion per annum.

· Extending Air Passenger Duty to business jet flights.

· Ending double tax relief for complex asset-backed pension funding arrangements.

· Introducing a Youth Contract worth £940 million. This includes 160,000 wage incentives to encourage firms to employ young people; at least 40,000 incentive payments for small firms to take on young apprenticeships; and offer of work experience or training for every unemployed 18 – 24 year old after three months on Jobseeker’s Allowance.

· Near doubling the number of disadvantaged of 2 year olds eligible to receive 15 hours of free education and care a week.

Measures in every region

North East

· Infrastructure projects to support growth in the North East:

o Electrification of the Transpennine railway.

o Tyne and Wear metro upgrade.

o East Coast Main Line improvements programme.

o Tees Multimodal Bio-Freight Terminal

· Enhanced Capital Allowances will be available in the North Eastern and Tees Valley Enterprise Zones to promote the creation and growth of capital intensive industries.

· Extending the existing North Eastern Enterprise Zone to include the Port of Blyth, encouraging private sector investment in the renewable industry and creating new jobs in the area, subject to due diligence.

· Local Enterprise Partnerships in the North East will receive over £20 million as part of the Growing Places Fund.

North West

· Infrastructure projects to support growth in the North West:

o Road improvements, including an airport link road, A556 Knutsford, the Heysham to M6 Link Road, and a new link road to the east of Crewe opening up key development area and acting as bypass.

o New cross Manchester city centre bus services.

o Electrification of the Transpennine Express railway.

o Manchester Metro Link Phase 3A Extensions.

o Mersey Gateway Bridge.

o Completion of Western gateway Enabling Scheme at Port Salford (as part of Regional Growth Fund).

o Rail improvements, including reinstating the Todmorden Curve, cutting travel times from Manchester to Burnley (as part of Regional Growth Fund) and improvements to Northern rail connectivity (Liverpool-Newcastle including Northern Hub)

· A new Enterprise Zone led by the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership

· Enhanced Capital Allowances will be available in the Liverpool City Region (Mersey Waters) Enterprise Zone to promote the creation and growth of capital intensive industries.

· Local Enterprise Partnerships in the North West will receive over £60 million as part of the Growing Places Fund.

Yorkshire and Humber

· Infrastructure projects to support growth in Yorkshire and Humber:

o Road improvements including the A18-A180 Link in NE Lincolnshire, the A6182 White Rose Way Improvement Scheme in Doncaster, accelerating the M1 junction 39 to 42 scheme, and capacity and safety improvements at 4 roundabouts and dualling of 1.4km section of the A164.

o Halving the Humber Bridge’s tolls for cars by writing down the debt.

o Two new park and ride sites in York.

o Leeds Rail Growth – Two new railway stations: Kirkstall Forge and Appley Bridge.

o Supertram additional vehicles (Sheffield) - 4 Additional tram vehicles for the Supertram network.

o Electrification of the Transpennine Express.

o Improved access to the Sheffield Gateway (as part of Regional Growth Fund).

· A new Enterprise Zone led by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, the second Enterprise Zone for the Humber area.

· Enhanced Capital Allowances will be available in the Sheffield City Region and the existing Humber Enterprise Zone to promote the creation and growth of capital intensive industries.

· Sheffield City Region will be using £7 million from the Growing Places Fund to establish a JESSICA for South Yorkshire, leveraging £13 million of European funding.

· Local Enterprise Partnerships in Yorkshire and Humber will receive nearly £50 million as part of the Growing Places Fund.

West Midlands

· Infrastructure projects to support growth in the West Midlands:

o Road improvements including a replacement bridge on the A45 over the West Coast Main Line close to Birmingham Airport, the rebuilding of the main bridge into Evesham from the South, and the M6 managed motorway scheme between Birmingham and Manchester.

o Improvements to the Midland Metro.

o Birmingham New Street station enlargement.

· Enhanced Capital Allowances will be available in the Black Country Enterprise Zone to promote the creation and growth of capital intensive industries.

· Local Enterprise Partnerships in the West Midlands will receive nearly £50 million as part of the Growing Places Fund:

East Midlands

· Infrastructure projects to support growth in the East Midlands:

o Road improvements, including a new dual carriageway link road to the south east of Corby; a bypass to the east of Lincoln; widening the A453 between Nottingham, the M1 and Nottingham East Midlands Airport; improvements at the M1/M6 Junction; widening the A14 Kettering Bypass between junctions 7 and 9; and improving the A1 at Elkesley.

o Hucknall Town Centre Improvement Scheme. A new inner relief road allowing pedestrianisation of High Street plus ‘bus only’ link and enhanced pedestrian and cycle facilities.

o Nottingham Express Transit.

· Local Enterprise Partnerships in the East Midlands will receive over £50 million as part of the Growing Places Fund

East of England

· Infrastructure projects to support growth in the East of England:

o A new Lower Thames Crossing.

o Road improvements, including the A14 in Cambridgeshire, the A11 Fiveways, and the M1 (J10-13).

o London Gateway port.

o Continuing to implement the £14.5 billion Crossrail project, with services operational from 2018.

o Continuing to implement the Thameslink Programme, investing around £6 billion in infrastructure and new trains

· Local Enterprise Partnerships in the East of England will receive over £30 million as part of the Growing Places Fund

London

· Infrastructure projects to support growth in London:

o Limiting increases in Transport for London and regulated rail fares.

o Road improvements including the acceleration of M25 junction 23 to 27 scheme, and widening of the M25 from J16-23 and J27-30.

o Extending flexible smart ticketing across London and the South East.

o An urban broadband fund to create 10 super connected cities, including London.

o Thames Tideway Tunnel.

o London Underground Investment Programme.

o Rail improvements including Kings Cross Station improvements, Great Western Electrification, and the East Coast Main Line improvements programme.

o Heathrow Capital Investment Programme.

o Continuing to implement the £14.5 billion Crossrail project, with services operational from 2018.

o Continuing to implement the Thameslink Programme, investing around £6 billion in infrastructure and new trains.

· Working with the Mayor and TfL to explore options for a proposed additional river crossing at Silvertown to relieve congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel

· Support for the extension of the Northern Line to Battersea, and will consider allowing local borrowing against future receipts of Community Infrastructure Levy to support this, subject to agreement from potential developers to contribute and develop the site

· The London Local Enterprise Partnership will receive nearly £40 million as part of the Growing Places Fund

South East

· Infrastructure projects to support growth in the South East:

o Road improvements, including the replacement of Northern Road Bridge in Portsmouth, and a new interchange on M275 opening up development area, park and ride site and bus priority measure.

o Rail improvements including 130 additional carriages for the Southern rail franchise in south London, a new rail link between Oxford and Bedford, and major resignalling work and construction of new platforms at Reading.

o M3 in Surrey – managed motorway scheme.

o New Lower Thames Crossing - over the next year, DfT will work with the Mayor and TfL to explore options for a proposed additional river crossing at Silvertown.

o Gatwick Capital Investment Programme.

o Continuing to implement the £14.5 billion Crossrail project, with services operational from 2018.

o Continuing to implement the Thameslink Programme, investing around £6 billion in infrastructure and new trains.

· Local Enterprise Partnerships in the South East will receive nearly £95 million as part of the Growing Places Fund.

South West

· Infrastructure projects to support growth in the South East:

o Improved buses in Bristol – a new Bus Rapid Transit scheme (including guided bus) from the Ashton Gate area to the city centre, including feeder services from further a field.

o Road improvements including, a new bypass of Kingskerswell linking Newton Abbot with Torbay, and a new link road through the South Bristol area linking a number of existing radial routes into the city.

o Great Western Electrification (electric services to Bristol, Oxford and Newbury)

· Funding for South West Water to enable it to cut bills by £50 per year for all household customers.

· Local Enterprise Partnerships in the South West will receive over £75 million as part of the Growing Places Fund.

Scotland

· The Government is working in consultation with the Scottish Government on the National Infrastructure Plan. In devolved areas it is for the Scottish Government to determine its own priorities.

· The Scottish Government will receive will receive Barnett consequentials on increased funding for England.

· £50 million will be made available to replace the Caledonian Sleeper fleet, to improve on-train facilities. The funding is subject to the Scottish Government agreeing to co-fund the replacement and provide the remainder of the funding

· An urban broadband fund will create 10 super connected cities, including Edinburgh.

Northern Ireland

· The Government is working in consultation with the Northern Ireland Executive on the National Infrastructure Plan. In devolved areas including transport, water, flood and waste it is for the Northern Ireland Executive to determine its own priorities.

· The Northern Ireland Executive will receive Barnett consequentials on increased funding for England.

· An urban broadband fund will create 10 super connected cities, including Belfast.

Wales

· The Government is working in consultation with the Welsh Government on the National Infrastructure Plan. In devolved areas including transport, water, flood and waste it is for the Welsh Government to determine its own priorities.

· The Welsh Government will receive Barnett consequentials on increased funding for England.

· An urban broadband fund will create 10 super connected cities, including Cardiff.

· Engaging with the Welsh Government on improvements to the M4 in south east Wales.

British Expat Representation in the European Union.

Dimanche, novembre 27th, 2011

Brian Cave, the originator of the campaigning group Pensioners Debout! in France, has written a thought provoking article on Why Political Representation is now so important to all ‘Expatriate British’ citizens now living in Europe, which should also provide interesting reading for eurosceptic Westminster MPs!

(Refer also to Categories/Chairmans Blog/Federal EU?/Tories & Europe in the right-hand index column)

Europe is in a special situation in the World.
Consider your position if the European Union ceased!
But first let us view Europe as part of a changing world. Political structures are changing fast. Much arises from the spirit of the younger generation, gaining power via the ease of social networking. Young professionals of all nationalities are talking to each other. Close bonds between people cross the ancient boundaries.
In Europe not only is this happening, but also the past enmities which tore Europe apart (and which the older generations remember extremely well) have virtually disappeared.
All these changes demand a new order of political structure.
BUT AT THIS TIME the British press and political commentators are pushing an anti-Europe theme.
What then would be your position if the European Union collapsed?
Before 1973*, any Briton living in continental Europe would be an absolute foreigner, totally dependent on the laws of the separate countries of Europe . You could not move freely in Europe from job to job, or live in one country and work in another. You would be unlikely to get a resident permit unless you could prove that you had sufficient funds to support yourself. You would have to provide yourself with full health cover by some means or another. The social security system would have been unlikely to support you. You would have no guarantee of permanent residence. Problems which might arise politically between the State of residence and the UK could force you to leave. Only through the treaties which have created the European Union can you be sure of your right to stay. These treaties are signed on your behalf by the UK . You are, whether you wish it or not, represented by the UK . But you cannot comment on your condition in any official manner without a representative MP in Parliament. The Government dictates to you what you can or cannot do.
The situation for the people who have retired from the UK to the Continent is, in these matters, extreme. Today there are 434,000 such citizens.
Normally all their income stems from the UK .
Many are by law taxed in the UK (ex -Military, Police, Firemen, Teachers, Local Authority staff).
The treaties relating to health cover mean that the costs of health cover (theoretically) are the responsibility of the UK .
They normally have families, grandchildren in the UK about whom they are concerned.
If Europe collapsed then these 434,000 elderly citizens could well be in a mess, with a difficult health care and financial situations.
Even the younger citizens abroad often have parents or siblings in the UK about whom they are concerned.
And above all, is there any citizen (old or young) who retains any attachment to Britain , not concerned about the performance of Britain in World Affairs?
Europe is indeed a very special case in the World. There are Continent wide European treaties which enable citizens to move freely between the States. Younger Britons often do so. The same Europe-wide treaties apply to them as they move. British Citizenship remains a constant in these moves. The British Citizen is an ambassador of British Culture – however unwittingly. The British Government should recognise this fact. There should be a two-way flow of spirit and information between the British Government and the British Citizen. It sounds so obvious, but it does not exist!
A New Order. In Europe , it would seem desirable – essential- that a form of communication should exist between the individual citizen, his/her nation, and the European Union by representation. If something goes amiss to whom would he/she seek redress? Fortunately one can go to the European Commission. Nevertheless would it not be welcome if the UK could and would consult those who are directly affected – the British citizen in Europe – by parliamentary representation? This could be achieved by an MP directly elected by these citizens. Through such an MP or MPs, the citizen can relate directly to Government and this would change the current attitude of dictate from Government to one of consultation with the Citizen Abroad.
Conclusions. Seek appropriate Representation, eventually by elected MPs. for citizens abroad. A new order of representation will take time to achieve but it will come faster if you make it known that you desire the British Government to take notice of you and your needs by at the first step guaranteeing a vote for life for some form of representation
Send your opinion to Mark Harper, Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, House of Commons, London SW1A OAA psmarkharper@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.ukand get others to sign up and comment on http://votes-for-expat-brits.com/

* Notes on demographic changes since 1973. When the UK joined the EU, the number of elderly British citizens on the continent has grown from extremely few – almost zero in most countries – to 102,000 in Spain, 55,000 in France, about 38,000 in both Germany and Italy and 9,000 in Portugal The numbers in Cyprus are now growing rapidly and number 17,600, increasing by over 12% in the last year alone. Ireland has 123,000.
The exact figures can be obtained via the Dept. of Works and Pensions tables

Brian Cave,
originator of http://pensionersdebout.blogspot.com/

Growth Plan A/A+

Jeudi, novembre 17th, 2011

The Chancellor George Osborne, ahead of his autumn economic statement later this month, has talked about a plan for longer-term growth in the British economy, through an increase in financial support for the housing market and a boost for public sector infrastructure projects, including e.g. power stations, social housing construction, super-fast broadband telecommunications networks and toll roads. In addition, 40 infrastructure projects already approved will be brought forward for rail, road and national electricity grid improvements.
This growth plan, devised by the Treasury and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, aims to attract private sector financing from institutional investors such as pension funds and insurance companies looking for a safe return e.g. from traditionally safe public utility-type assets, where a stable regulatory framework can be guaranteed. A key question from such investors is then what type and level of government guarantee and/or risk sharing is proposed to attract and protect their private sector investment? Work then continues on creating an appropriate investment scheme to attract private finance but which will not undermine the current triple-A credit rating of the UK by increasing official government borrowing figures.
However, the most immediate problem is the current lack of growth in the economy which the government seems to be mainly attributing to short-term weaknesses in the Eurozone. Therefore, the Chancellor at the end of November, will also announce proposals for a so-called credit easing to boost lending to small and medium enterprises, with a medium-term plan to access the financial markets directly (i.e. by means other than the banks) through specialist small business funds. That said, despite the EU/Eurozone representing over 50% of UK exports, this trading bloc will remain a mature market with modest growth rates when it recovers, compared with China, India, Brazil, Russia, Turkey etc. , all fast developing markets where the future for British exporters must lie.
The opposition Labour party is also waiting in the wings with its opportunistic leader Ed. Miliband urging ministers to change course away from economic austerity (the currently termed Plan A), Labour having calculated that, due to the lower than predicted growth in the economy, the government will be forced to over-borrow an accumulated £100 billion or more by 2015. Therefore, Labour is again waving its 5-Point Plan (refer to Categories/ Chairmans Blog/Labour 5-Point Plan in the right-hand index column) to boost the economy despite providing no real details, apart from a further £2 billion raised by an additional tax on bank bonuses, on how these growth policies would be costed without adding substantially to the existing UK deficit and dragging the economy further downwards.
If the government holds its nerve and can generate some growth in the economy in the period before 2015, its Plan A could be viewed by the public as more a Plan A+!

The Tories & Europe

Mercredi, novembre 9th, 2011

The Economist magazine suggests that the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservative party is showing a certain lack of maturity in its article on the Tories in Europe under the heading Oh Grow up in the October 29th, 2011 edition.
In referring to the motion in the House of Commons on whether a referendum should be held asking if the country should remain in the European Union (EU), leave, or renegotiate the terms of its membership, the Economist finds this unreasonable. Even though the motion was defeated, almost 50% of Conservative backbenchers refused to toe the party line in voting for the motion.
The timing of the debate itself could also be viewed as damaging to the international reputation of the third largest member of the EU with its suggestion of opportunism, rather than demonstrating full support for its single largest trading partner the Eurozone during its current crisis. Instead of posturing in seeming isolation it should not be forgotten that it takes two sides to have a negotiation, if Conservative Eurosceptics really believe that they can win back concessions such as repatriating powers over e.g. social and employment rules, without a corresponding cost which would further weaken the influence of the UK over events within the EU.
Still, if this is all part of some grand scheme to return the EU to its original form as the largest and richest common market in the world and within which the UK would more freely and competitively trade its goods and services, these same Eurosceptics should not be diverted by other populist causes such as repatriation of the powers of the Human Rights Act!

On-line Voting & Individual Electoral Registration.

Mercredi, novembre 2nd, 2011

There are a number of reasons why around only 30,000 expat Brits out of an estimated 5 - 6 million were registered to vote at the last general election:
1. A general distrust of the UK off-shore tax implications for expatriates of registering to vote, since they think this might also be brought to the attention of HMRC.
2. Difficulties of dealing with a rather out-dated way of registering and then voting given the more modern means of communications available today e.g. with the internet.
3. A mutual lack of interest by both the expatriate who for various reasons has left the UK behind, and political parties who give the impression of only showing interest in those able to vote at election time.
4. A rejection of politics and politicians in general, which matches a certain anti-politics mood in the UK today.
5. The 15 year limit on voting rights.

Concerning the tax implications in 1 above, it is interesting that the letter below from the Constitution Group in the Cabinet Office not only draws a distinction between paying taxes and having the right to vote but also equates British expatriates still paying UK taxes with some foreign nationals living and paying tax in the UK but not eligible to vote.

On the use of on-line voting as mentioned in 2 above, proponents in the US argue that Internet voting would offer greater speed and convenience, particularly for overseas and military voters and, in fact, any voters allowed to vote that way. If it is safe to bank or shop on-line, why not vote on-line?

The answer is that it is not inherently safe to e.g. bank or shop on-line and computer and network security experts are virtually unanimous in pointing out that online voting is an exceedingly dangerous threat to the integrity of U.S. elections.

However, if we are prepared to accept the security risk to our finances for the convenience of shopping or banking on-line, perhaps we are also prepared to accept the same level of risk for the convenience as expatriates (a relatively small percenatage of the electorate) of voting on-line?

You can read more here If I can shop and bank on-line, why cannot I vote on-line?

Letter from Constitution Group, Cabinet Office

Thank you for your response to the Government’s consultation on Individual Electoral Registration. We have now closed the consultation and are currently reviewing all the responses that we have received. In your response to the white paper you have raised issues regarding the voting rights of British Citizens overseas. In light of your comments, it may be helpful if I set out the background to this issue.

As you may know, the Representation of the People Act 1985 provided for the first time for UK citizens living overseas to be able to register to vote in general and European Parliamentary elections in the UK. The voting rights of overseas electors did not continue indefinitely under the Representation of the People Act 1985, but for five years from the time when the UK citizen was last resident and on the electoral register in the UK. Parliament decided to impose a time limit on the eligibility of overseas electors to vote because it was thought that generally over time their connection with the UK is likely to diminish. The length of the time limit has subsequently been changed over the years, first increasing to 20 years, then being reduced to 15 years since 1 April 2002.

The UK voting franchise is not based exclusively on being a UK tax payer, so it does not necessarily follow that, because someone pays taxes in the UK, he or she has the right to vote in the UK. Some foreign nationals living and paying tax in the UK are not eligible to vote.

However, I can confirm that the Government is considering whether the 15 year time limit remains appropriate. If a change is proposed Parliament will need to consider the issue.

We will publish a formal response to the consultation in due course.

Regards,

The Electoral Registration Transformation Programme

Constitution Group, the Cabinet Office

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