A POTENTIAL end to the ban on British expats voting in UK national elections after 15-years abroad was discussed at the recent Conservatives Abroad monthly meeting.
Lord Lexdon had flown out from the UK to be their after-dinner speaker at the Tamisa Golf Friday night.
Currently expat Britons are ‘deprived’ of their voting rights, even though many pay UK tax on pensions, own a UK home subject to council tax and have family there.
He said that expats, many on the Costa del Sol, feel very strongly that their mother country had electorally deserted them and that he was doing everything in his power to rectify that situation.
He believed though that the rule would eventually be changed and found it difficult to understand why it had ever been introduced in the first place.
“This is an issue of importance that should be subject to debate,” he said.
There will be a full debate in the House of Lords next month.
It is an amendment to the electoral registration bill currently making its way through UK parliament.
“Most other EU countries – including Spain, France, Germany, Italy and Portugal, and other countries like the US and Switzerland – allow expats to participate in their elections for life,” said Lord Lexdon.
“We are out of line with the world’s leading democratic countries.”
One of the main aims of the bill is to change electoral registration procedures so that people can register to vote individually rather than a ‘head of household’ doing it for all those living at the same address.
This amendment will be discussed at the ‘committee stage’ next month, which is when peers in the House of Lords scrutinise the bill in detail.
His aim is to “secure from the government a clear explanation of its position.”
Depending on what the government says, he then plans to ask for a vote on the issue at the third and final reading in the Lords, expected by the end of the year.
If the Lords adopt it then back and forth between the two houses could take place, with a final version of the bill likely to be passed early 2013.
Article by Nicole Hallett and John Horne