Individual Electoral Registration and Electoral Administration - Political and Constitutional Reform Committee Contents

Written evidence submitted by David Burrage


1.  I write to you in the above referenced matter, not only as a loyal British citizen who has been disenfranchised of my national right of suffrage, but also on behalf of the British Expats Association (Spain), of which I am the co-founder and legal adviser. We are the largest association of its kind in the world, including at least one member resident in the Republic of China, although the overwhelming majority of our members are currently resident in Spain, which is where the largest community of British expats can be found anywhere in the world.

2.  We founded the Association with the primary objective of advising British citizens of both their rights and obligations under the law. To keep them together as one people in the bond of our national identity and to fight abuse. We take no money when assisting our fellow British citizens and fund our Association from our own pockets.

3.  There are many others who have made far greater sacrifices for our nation, including the hundreds of thousands who gave their lives in order that we could be free and live under a democracy. What I set out here in no way detracts from the many sacrifices made by those who still survive, not least their own depth of feeling in this matter of national identity and suffrage.

4.  As a British citizen who grew up in London during those dark days of oppression in Europe during WW11 I consider that I have earned the right to address the Select Committee which is to sit on 13 October 2011 to hear views on the above matter. Had time and circumstances permitted I should have been pleased to attend upon the Committee.

5.  As one who survived the blitz on London as a child and having suffered all those indignities which accompanied that period of our history. Sleeping under the stairs and never knowing whether we would survive the night, we also served our country, even though we were too young to take up arms to defend democracy in Europe. In those dark days we pulled together as one nation and had I been somewhat older, I too would have been part of that force of so many of our gallant fellow men who liberated Europe from tyranny.

6.  Further, I spent almost my entire working life in the service of the Crown under a sworn allegiance to Her majesty our Queen. I accepted the Queens shilling with pride when enlisting in the Regular Army during the "cold" war and was on stand-by to be airlifted to that Suez debacle in 1956.

7.  Following my military career I served almost 30 years in the Metropolitan Police Force, attaining a senior rank. During my early police service I performed duty at electoral polling stations. As a young policemen on the beat and later as a detective I patrolled the streets of London at night in order that our fellow citizens could sleep comfortably in their beds, often removing our shoes in order to do so with stealth, walking through dark back alleyways where the public would fear to tread apprehending criminals, who were often violent. Later when a Detective Sergeant I was advised I was to be put on the IRA death list following arrests in a terrorist incident. I have been threatened with assassination by an armed robber. I fought deranged persons when they were armed with knives. I have had a knife held to my throat by a blackmailer seated behind me in a car when I had accompanied the victim to a meeting with him, although at that time I was more concerned about the armed officers surrounding us. Even after my retirement I have had a pistol pointed at my face and touching my nose when detaining a notorious burglar. We performed our sworn duty without a thought to our own safety.

8.  I moved to Spain in my retirement.

9.  I was active in the run up to the Political Party's Voting and Referendum Act 2000 and during the passage of that Bill I took very great offense at the fool who awoke from his slumber in the Upper House and declared that British citizens who absent themselves for more than five years can have no interest in the United Kingdom. Whereas nothing could be further from the truth.

10.  I have been disenfranchised of my right to a national vote, even though and despite of my devotion to my homeland. I am also required to pay income tax in the UK on my police pension—The Double Taxation Relief (Taxes on Income) (Spain) Order 1976. Not only am I bound by UK fiscal law, including certain of the laws of testacy, I am also bound by certain of the UK's criminal laws as a British citizen. I am also in receipt of my full basic UK state old-age pension and have absolutely no say in how my income taxed is used.

11.  Taxation without representation is tyranny.

12.  The United Kingdom along with Denmark are the only two nations within the EU which disenfranchises its citizens of their right to suffrage. This is not something for the British nation to be proud of when at the same time boasting to be the cradle of democracy. Even the F.R. of Germany, which disenfranchises its citizens of their right to suffrage after 25 years of absence, do not do so where their citizens have re-located to elsewhere within the EEA or Switzerland.

13.  My current situation is that as a Union Citizen (Article 20 TFEU), with a right of free movement within the EU (Article 21 TFEU), I do not have a national vote anywhere in the world and cannot even take part in any referendum, even if it is called to determine our future in Europe. Whilst Union citizenship does not replace one's national identity, but rather compliments it, such Union citizenship, where one's state of nationality does not recognise a citizen in its democratic processes is meaningless.

14.  I refer to my country as including all of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, especially since during my working life I served and worked alongside men/women from all parts of the UK.

15.  I have voted at every election since I attained the age of majority, save that I was not allowed my overseas vote at the last election as I had exceeded the 15 year rule.

16.  My birthright has been stolen from me and I have been outlawed by the country I love and have served so loyally all my life. Those responsible for taking away my birthright have made me their enemy.

17.  The situation in which I currently find myself also breaches my basic human right of suffrage.

18.  I have attached a petition[52] I had lodged with the European Court of Human Rights and it serves as an indictment against the British Government that its citizens have to look elsewhere in an attempt to seek justice.

19.  There were those in that place who expressed indignation over the proposition that serving prisoners should not re-gain their suffrage rights. Those sounds we heard coming out of that place represented a very ill informed response. If you strip a prisoner of his basic right of representation then not only does society de-humanize the prisoner it also de-humanizes itself, it also reduces the likelihood of re-habilitation. It also exposes prisoners to abuse, particularly where the majority of prisoners are not serving time for violence. The outcry represented the lynch mob mentality. Why do I say so? Well, I put many of them there and make no apology for that. My work brought me in daily contact with criminals, including a number of murderers. In fact there are currently a few still serving. It may interest the Committee to learn that I was the CID prison liaison officer for the entire UK to HM Prison Wandsworth (1965-67). I do know what it is like to spend a day up on the wing, but once they got to know who I was the cat calling stopped. If you remove a person's hope, you remove society's hope.

20.  I should also remind this Committee of the prophetic words of the late Sir Winston Churchill, who despite many of his faults led our nation to victory at a time in our history when we came so near to defeat. In October 1942 he wrote to the British War Cabinet, "Hard as it is now to say, I trust that the European family may act united as one under a Council of Europe. I look forward to a United State of Europe." Further, in 1947 the European Movement formed a committee and the following May (1948) they organised a Congress of Europe at the Hague. This Committee included members from 16 countries and the President of Honour was WINSTON CHURCHILL. After that meeting a communiqué was issued which read, "We desire a united Europe through whose area the free movement of persons, ideas and goods is restored." This is the opening sentence of the Treaty of Rome. It was from the Council of Europe that the European Court of Justice emerged. Not to be confused with the council of ministers to the EU Parliament.

21.  Currently we are proposing a monument to those merchant seafarers who gave their lives in two world war conflicts. It is right that we do so, lest we forget, but at the same time our Parliament has dishonored the memory of the late Sir Winston S Churchill, whose effigy looks upon our Palace of Westminster.

22.  In two world wars, it was not only British residents of our islands who took up arms in the defence of democracy, it was also the many thousands of other British citizens who returned home to defend their motherland.

23.  Like so many of our fellow British citizens, who have sought to spend some last years of our lives elsewhere within the EU, I am now hoping to be able to sell up in Spain and to return to my country of birth. Spending a few years in another country can never replace the ties and depth of feeling one has for one's homeland. Further, I have family in England and visit regularly and on every visit I travel up to Westminster and gaze at the office I once occupied at New Scotland Yard overlooking our Parliament. I have also shown many visitors around London with pride. It is my home and always will be.

24.  I have attached a copy of my appeal,[53] on behalf of our Association, to the European Court of Human Rights and I would be most grateful if you could prepare copies before the meeting for those who are to sit on that Committee.

25.  I have not addressed the fundamental principles, as enshrined within the consolidated Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), as I know you will already have considered the proper effects of this treaty.

October 2011

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Prepared 4 November 2011