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

Written evidence submitted by Brian Cave, Pensioners Debout


1.  I am Brian Cave, organiser of an internet site (a so-called "blog") which is concerned with the impact of rules and regulations, largely originating from the UK Government and Whitehall offices on the lives of British pensioners who have retired to the continent of Europe. This site is

2.  There are now about 430,000 British pensioners in the EU. I concentrate on those in France which number about 54,000. The numbers increase yearly, even in these recessionary times.

3.  You should understand that we pensioners all have considerable interests in the UK. These usually have a background of centuries of family history.


4.  To understand this interest I will recount my own connections.

5.  Though my own immediate family was poor, I have a history of the family Cave traceable through centuries. On my mother's side one ancestor was a sawyer near Tunbridge Wells and cut oak for the 19th century restoration of Westminster Hall.

6.  I was born in the 1930's recession. My father attempted to run a photographer's shop, which failed and he was bankrupted. My mother then obtained charity from the Roman Catholic Church to support her three children.

7.  In 1939 I and my two brothers were evacuated. I, the youngest, returned to London because my mother wanted me close to her and I was there throughout the blitz. Our house and yet another requisitioned house in which we lived were blasted.

8.  Later I managed through scholarships to reach Oxford where I read Botany.

9.  I served for two years National Service as a 2nd Lt. in the army.

10.  I recount all this to demonstrate that these British antecedents mean much to me. No way at all have I cut myself off from my antecedents, my British background—nor could I ever do that.

11.  Later I established on behalf of the Gloucestershire LEA an Environmental Studies Centre in the Forest of Dean.

12.  Mark Harper is at this time my MP (Forest of Dean). But if current absurd rules hold I will lose that representation in August 2013. I will be dis-enfranchised.

13.  Mr Harper is well aware of my activities to attempt to achieve social justice for the expatriate pensioner. I have exchanged correspondence with him for some years.

14.  Today, naturally, my family ties to the UK remain strong. I have two daughters who live in the UK and one grand-daughter who is at school in Bradford. I am greatly concerned for their welfare. My eldest brother is in a home in Northfleet, Kent with dementia. It falls to me with the great support of my oldest daughter to manage his affairs. I phone the home each month to see how he is.

15.  In short, I have a deep personal concern for the way the UK is managed.

16.  So many of the correspondents to my "blog" have similar concerns.

17.  Whether I myself will return to live in the UK—I am at present verging on 80—I cannot say. So much depends on the relationship of the UK with the EU and family interactions. Many readers of "Pensioners Debout" will return and want to know that it is a country which they would be proud to live in.

18.  This last point touches on my (our) awareness of Britain on the world stage. I and my wife listen every day to the British news on TV and radio. We watch Prime Minster's Question Time every Wednesday. We are probably better politically informed than the average person resident in the UK.

19.  I and all expatriates in Europe have (or should have) an enormous concern with the relationship of the UK with the EU. It is vital to our welfare.


20.  If you read the comments on the website [] developed through the initiative of Christopher Chantrey, you will see a large number of impassioned pleas for representation. Yet many others are apparently just not interested.

21.  Frankly, it is hardly surprising. It is an extension of the reason why so few residents vote in UK elections. But there is more one can add. If a law exists that you can only vote for 15 years, it indicates that the politicians are really not interested in us. Many constituency MPs are not interested (I have recorded instances) in those who live outside their constituency. Most constituency MPs have not the time to really analyse the concerns which we have and which are the responsibility of Whitehall departments.


22.  This has been examined by me in an article on my blog.[54] I urge you to read this. It firstly demonstrates the great importance of representation for expatriates in Europe to the Westminster Parliament and then explores the world-wide significance of British representation.


23.  The international regulations that affect the expatriate which are passed by Westminster, do not have the interests of the expatriate at heart but reflect the views of the professional civil servant of the interests of the State—not ours, who nevertheless are bound by these rules. Never is the question asked in the corridors of Whitehall "What is the effect of this treaty/agreement on the lives of the British expatriate?" I have covered these aspects in the above reference.

24.  It is my view that we need representation of the expatriate for the expatriate preferably by an expatriate. In my view our own representative MP/MPs would serve us best. That is—someone who knows our special concerns as British Citizens abroad (especially in the EU) and will do his/her best to represent us at home.

October 2011

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Prepared 4 November 2011