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British citizens gaining the right to vote in perpetuity . . .

Dear Friends,

The Commons debate on Friday  potentially is so historically important that a reminder for action is sent here.

The Overseas Voters (15 Year Rule) Bill  - Bill to grant British citizens the right to vote in perpetuity

The Overseas Voters (15 Year Rule) Bill, a bill to scrap the 15 year limit on overseas voting presented by Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, will have its second reading this Friday 6 March 2015.
This represents a unique opportunity to overturn the 15 year rule, perhaps even before the 2015 General Election, and certainly before any UK EU referendum takes place.
The debate on Friday can be followed here: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Live.aspx
New Europeans have prepared a briefing on the bill, which they are sending out to MPs this week and which is attached for your background information.
Supporters of the campaign to repeal the 15 year rule are asked to write to (ex)MPs or to Party HQs, to encourage them to attend the House on Friday for the 2nd reading and to vote in favour of the bill (the following is merely a suggested text):
 ”On 2 December 2014, a ten minute bill to scrap the 15 year limit on overseas voting and to grant British citizens the right to vote in perpetuity, was presented to the House of Commons by Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and unanimously accepted.  
The bill will have its second reading this Friday 6 March 2015.  
The current 15 year rule, which automatically disqualifies UK overseas citizens from voting in national elections after 15 years, is unfair, arbitrary and not in keeping with the democratic traditions of the UK.  
It affects British overseas citizens who have lived out of the UK for 15 years or more, including expat professionals with international careers, second generation expats, many of whom will come of age while resident abroad without the right to vote anywhere in national elections, as well as expat pensioners.  
Please attend the second reading on 6 March 2015 and support the bill and send a positive message to UK overseas citizens that their contribution to British society, is valued.”
MPs’ details can be found here:  http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
General comments about the votes for expats campaign can be posted here, http://votes-for-expat-brits-blog.com/2011/05/31/voting-rights-blog/ and to register to vote, follow this link:  https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Jane Golding & Brian Cave
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BRIEFING:

Overseas Voters (15 Year Rule) Bill 2014-15

Private Members Bill On 6 March 2015

Introduction

New Europeans welcomes the Overseas Voters (15 Year Rule) Bill. The Bill seeks to end a rule which disenfranchises British overseas electors.

We also welcome the recommendations of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee in its ‘Political and Constitutional Reform – Sixth Report Voter engagement in the UK: follow up’ published on 18 February 2015.

The Committee recommended that ‘the proposal for removing the current 15- year limit on British citizens living overseas from participating in UK elections should be considered as part of a wider package of measures aimed at increasing engagement by this group, as this change would simplify the eligibility criteria and make it easier to promote registration to British citizens no longer resident in the UK.

Currently, UK citizens who have been living abroad for more than 15 years, automatically lose their right vote in the UK.

We believe that the rule is unfair and have joined forces with organisations abroad such as Votes For Expats to campaign for the abolition of the 15 year rule

Labour International, Liberal International, and Conservatives Abroad have also campaigned for a change in the rule.

 

The ’15 Year Rule’

Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that ‘every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity (to vote), without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions’

The very existence of a rule which disenfranchises overseas electors after 15 years spent abroad, whose only ‘legitimate’ aim appears to be to restrict the parliamentary franchise to those individuals who are affected by decisions made in Westminster or who have retained ties with the UK, does little to promote participation or to give a voice to overseas electors.

In our view, it is also punitive and arbitrary. Even if we were to accept that the franchise in parliamentary election should be lost after a set period spent abroad, which we do not, we certainly can not condone the automatic restriction of such a fundamental right after 15 years, applied indiscriminately, regardless of any ties one might have with the UK.

Is it fair, for example, that an overseas citizen who draws income from the UK or owns capital in the UK, has no say or no influence though political participation on how much tax is levied? Those in favour of the rule would argue that an assessment of one’s ties on a case-by-case basis would be cumbersome and could lead to inconsistent decisions. We submit that such assessments are carried out by the Department and Works and Pensions in Winter Fuel Payments cases for overseas pensioners who reside in another EEA country.

One is entitled if s/he has ‘retained sufficient and genuine links with the UK. Guidance has been issued by the DWP which states the factors to take into account:

 Personal factors: for example whether the claimant is receiving a UK benefit,

 Periods of residence or work in the UK, for example, where the claimant has spent a significant part of their life in the UK

 Where the claimant has worked and paid UK NI contributions as a result of that work

Time spent abroad is not a ground for disqualification in the enjoyment of certain rights and seems to only apply for the right to fully participate in political life.

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 18.53.36

 

 

 

 

The importance of this Bill

The IPPR report, ‘Global Brit: making the most of the British Diaspora’ (2010) took the view that ‘the British population overseas has the following characteristics:

• They are a clearly identifiable and self-identifying national group

• They have a sense of empathy and connection with other Britons in their country of

• Residence and in other countries overseas

• They retain an attachment to the UK and an interest in its affairs

• They mobilise collectively or show a willingness to be mobilised.

“Even emigrants who have lived for many years abroad, or who feel they have committed themselves wholly to a new life in a new country often maintain significant links or attachment to the UK”

The evidence strongly suggests that the argument that links to the UK are somehow lost after 15 years spent abroad, i.e. the argument in support of the 15 year rule, has no evidential basis. It is simply an assumption. We should pose the question as to whether a society, which promotes fairness and confers undeniable rights, can justify excluding a portion of the electorate (which is already significantly under-represented).

A successful re-engagement with the overseas electorate requires accepting that they can play an active part in their country and should have a say in how their country is run regardless of any time spent abroad or whether they are affected by decisions made in Westminster

The 15 year rule is an anomaly and should be removed. In Brits Abroad (2006), The Institute of Public Policy and Research (IPPR) showed that there were more than 5.5 million British citizens living abroad permanently although the figure is believed to have increased to 5.6 million.

Only 15,848 British overseas are registered to vote in the UK Parliament Election which represents less than 1% of the total overseas citizens. This is by far the least registered group within the UK electorate.

With the exception of 1991, registration of overseas voters is higher when there is a UK General Election1 and the large increase in registration of overseas voters in 1991 may have been influenced by amendments to the law, which provided that overseas voters were eligible to vote in UK Parliament elections up to 20 years (rather than 5) after leaving the UK.

1  Sources ONS, Electoral Statistics and personal communication and www.parliament.uk%2Fbriefingpapers% 
2  Fsn05923.pdf&ei=b8tHVPDzK8LO7gbj0ICwBQ&usg=AFQjCNFNPQVjX7qI1kE7a-EuPdAxi6azFg

New Europeans launched an online survey targeting British citizens living abroad to provide some preliminary indication of the existing barriers to registration and to understand how overseas British citizens felt about their right to vote in UK parliament elections.

The survey was completed by 215 respondents who were reached via social media and through partner British expats organisations. Participants from the following countries took part (please note that the list is not exhaustive):

Within the European Union: France, Spain, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Poland , and Greece. Outside of the European Union : China, Thailand, Australia, Canada, United States of America, Switzerland and Turkey

We have also received some positive support from British citizens abroad in Los Angeles and Mexico through this short exercise.

The potential worldwide reach is encouraging and New Europeans will continue to establish working relationships with key stakeholders nationally but also internationally to facilitate better engagement with British citizens abroad.

In the House of Commons Debate on 27 June 2012 at c243, Mr Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP in proposing to add a clause to remove the 15 year rule during the passage of Electoral Registration and Administration Bill 2012-13 explained his reasoning as follows:

According to the Institute for Public Policy Research, 5.6 million British citizens currently live abroad. The shocking truth is that although, as of last December, about 4.4 million of them were of voting age, only 23,388 were registered for an overseas vote, according to the Office for National Statistics’ electoral statistics.

Out of 4.4 million potential overseas voters, only 23,000-odd are actually registered! Half the problem is the difficulties of the registration process, which I brought before the House during the clause 1 stand part debate on 18 June, but the other half of the problem is the cut-off limit or qualifying period.

The issue of restrictions on overseas voters was reviewed in the House of Commons in 1998, with the Home Affairs Select Committee publishing a report on Electoral Law and Administration. However, the section of the report that related to overseas voters only focused on the maximum time for which a British national living abroad should be able to register to vote. The committee reported that for various reasons a cut-off point of 20 years was not suitable. It took the view that for a British citizen living abroad for 20 years, an understanding of politics would be rooted in the past and not in contemporary British politics. It also highlighted the low registration rate of British nationals living abroad and the cost of extending the franchise to 20 years.

Noting that the UK Parliament has adjusted the time limit from 5 years to 20 years and most recently to 15 years, we seriously question the justification of any time limit for both Westminster and European elections on the grounds that these “overseas” voters have over time seen their connection with the UK diminish.

We asked though our online survey British overseas resident why they felt it important to vote in the UK Parliament elections and the results are as follows:

Why is it important for you to vote Percentage

I am a British citizen 93.90%

I have a vote and want to use it 53.63%

Issues decided in Westminster can affect me 87.15%

So I have a voice through my MP 68.15%

It helps maintain my links with the UK 61.45%

83.2% of the participants do not have a right to vote in the national elections of the country of their residence.

 

A. tells us that ‘I have had an international career spanning 4 different EU countries as well as UK. My professional (I am a solicitor of England and Wales) and personal links to the UK remain very strong and I spend on average 2-3 months per year in the UK for personal and professional reasons.

I have used my right of free movement under EU law to work in different EU countries and find myself thereby deprived of my fundamental right to vote as a British citizen’

B. added that ‘As a British subject (sole nationality) I must have the right to participate in the decision of selecting the party/persons that I feel will better pursue the interests of my country. Having lived abroad a long time should not weaken this right as they do not in most (if not all) the other European countries.’

The fact that they often draw pensions and pay taxes in the UK is sufficient justification to argue that that connection is in practice maintained.

We agree with those proposing an amendment to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill in the House of Commons in June 2012 who argued that: “For a democracy as ancient as ours, it is not an exaggeration to say that it is a stain on our democratic principles that our citizens are placed at such a disadvantage when they have moved abroad compared with citizens from those other countries. Her Majesty’s Government is very happy to collect tax from most of the enormous number of people involved, but denies them the vote.”

The 15-year time limit has the anomalous effect of leaving many British nationals resident in other EU member states unable to vote in any member state’s national elections.

84.92% of our respondents support the abolition of the 15 year rule now. This contradicts the notion of EU citizenship in the Treaties as well as the notion of “no taxation without representation”.

C. tells us that ‘I am a retired police officer and therefore pay my taxes in the UK on my police pension and therefore feel I should have a voice’.

Similarly D. tells us ‘I need and want, my democratic human right to be treated as an equal with all other British nationals, who choose to remain in the UK, especially as I have worked and paid all my taxes and NIC from the age of 16 to 60.5 years, and now contribute to the Exchequer in the UK.’

The ‘no taxation without representation’ principle was also echoed by E. who says that ‘As an EU civil servant, I am tax resident in the UK on my non-EU world-wide income and yet I do not have the right to vote.’

Conclusion

It is evident from the responses to our survey that the concerned British overseas residents feel it is of extreme importance that they fully participate in the UK political life via national elections. The current 15 year rule leaves them with no voting rights in any national elections unless they acquire the citizenship of the country they reside in.

Furthermore, they have little or no say in decisions made by the British Parliament despite the impact it may have on their lives.

We take the view that a large proportion of overseas British voters will want to have a say in the current future direction of the UK.

This can only be achieved if they have the right to vote. Overseas British citizens tell us that they are concerned with issues around tax, pensions, and healthcare and in many ways they echo the concerns of British citizens living in the UK.

By supporting this Bill, you will send a positive message to the estimated 5 million overseas citizens that:

 They are not forgotten;

 They are an integral part of our society; and

 We value their contribution

 

 

Contact   Samia Badani   Vice-Chair (Campaigns)

samia.badani@neweuropeans.net   www.neweuropeans.net

Who Said The French Don’t Know How To Make Kitchens?

Despite their cuisine being renowned all over the world, even listed as a UNESCO world heritage, the reputation of French kitchen design has never quite matched up to the food.

466314_num1054713_600x600One kitchen designer based in the 12th arrondissement of Paris aims to change this outdated reputation. Xavie’z was launched in 1998, the brainchild of Xavier Pottiez, a visionary kitchen designer. With no less than twenty professionals trusted to build and manufacture their kitchens, Xavie’z's objective is to offer impeccable quality in all areas of their work. While their values are old-fashioned: honesty, kindness, openness, the finish of their kitchens has a modern, almost revolutionary feel.

The kitchen is the heart of the 21st century home, the room where we will spend most of our time in, no longer merely a functional room used for cooking. Today’s kitchen serves as a multi-purpose space: an informal dining area, a home office, a play area, a living space… Xavie’z places equal importance on the kitchen’s aesthetic appeal andto its functionality; it is a space you want to spend time in.

By rearranging kitchen furniture and using exclusive high quality materials, Xavie’z manages to blur the boundaries between different rooms of the home and create a brand new living space which encourages casual interaction. After a mutual exchange of ideas, your kitchen will be tailored to your unique needs using the latest technology yet maintaining a simple, original aesthetic that is truly one-of-a-kind. A kitchen is for life, not just for Christmas and many Xavie’Z creations are registered trademarks.

cuisine-contemporaine-woodsteel-b-03If you are planning or have recently moved to France, you will have seen how good, fresh food cuisine-contemporaine-ilot-central-so-oakis central to French lifestyle and culture. A daily trip to theboulangerie each morning will soon become part of your routine, as will trips to local food markets and perhaps the odd château for some fine wine. You will have excellent cuisine (and the produce to make it) at your disposal, so why not have an equally prestigious kitchen to showcase and share it?

For more inspiration and more examples of their creations, visit the Xavie’z website.

. . . alternatively, if you wish to benefit from the favourable GBP/Euro rates (currently at an 8-year high) and are looking to buy a house in France in which to house a designer kitchen, please call +44 (0)20 7428 4910 or email us at info@sextantrproperties.com. Now is the time to act; buying a property in France is 16% cheaper compared to this time last year.

Our star of March’s cheese board is Mademoiselle Marilyn Camembert

March_15There are two Camemberts; the traditional and  AOC designated follows a 1791 method which uses raw milk, and a more industrial process which is naturally more readily available.

A young cheese has a milky sweet taste, it’s hard and crumbles. As it matures the rind acquires a bloom and  centre a runny texture. It has a richer taste.

It’s always good with a glass of Normandy cider…

If Brie is the king of cheeses, then Camembert surely is the queen . . .

1st March is Narcisse day

A_Opener_March15Today 1st March is Narcisse day, it’s the 13th day of Ventose which the third month of Winter, so Spring is on its way !

Narcissi grow wild in the northern mediterranean countries and of course if they grow in France, the French would have had a go at making perfume out of them. Which is why it was a flower recognised by Republican France.

Narcissus Absolute, the perfume,  is extracted with petroleum ether from the flowers of Narcissus Poeticus. Narcissus fragrance is used almost exclusively in high class perfumes and lotions.

Narcissus Poeticus is one of the original daffodils to be cultivated and the species that grew in ancient Greece. The legend of Echo and Narcissus recognises the perfect symmetry and beauty of the flower.

 

Media round-up on Saturday 28th February

Election Bulletin for Friday, 27th February 2015

A media round-up of news, views and comment pertaining to the UK 2015 General Election- Produced by Early Morning Media

image001

 

CAMPAIGNS

Labour promises to cut tuition fees to £6,000

Ed Miliband has said that Labour would cut university tuition fees in England to £6,000 per year from autumn 2016. He says a Labour government would pay for the fee cut from £9,000 by reducing tax relief on pensions for those earning over £150,000 per year. This commitment to cut fees would not be negotiable in any post-election coalition deals, Mr Miliband promised. Vince Cable attacked the proposals as “fraudulent” and a “tax on pensioners”. George Osborne said: “Ed Miliband’s sums don’t add up because the universities would get less money and there would be fewer students so it’s bad for students, bad for universities, bad for the taxpayer and bad for the British economy.” In a speech in Leeds, Mr Miliband said higher fees had been a “betrayal of an entire generation”, leaving students with average debts of £44,000 and putting an extra burden on public finances. An analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies said that overall Labour’s policy would “leave university finances largely unaffected in the short run” and “reduce government debt in both the short and long run”. The proposals were criticised by pensions experts. “The pensions and long-term savings industry supports reform of tax relief but this is not the way to do it,” said Huw Evans, director general of the Association of British Insurers. “We need a focus on reforming the pension tax relief system as a whole to make it fairer, better value and encourage saving from middle earners, rather than just piecemeal cutting back the existing system to pay for other policy objectives.”

The Daily Telegraph   The Daily Telegraph, Page: 16   Financial Times, Page: 2   Daily Mirror, Page: 2   Daily Star, Page: 2   Evening Standard, Page: 4   Daily Express, Page: 4   Daily Star, Page: 2   The Times, Page: 14-15   The Independent, Page: 6   Daily Mail, Page: 4   The Guardian, Page: 12-13

UKIP would back Tory deficit plans

Nigel Farage has said that UKIP will back the Conservatives’ deficit reduction strategy in the next Parliament but only if they “stick to their promises”. Speaking ahead of the party’s spring conference, Mr Farage said UKIP would back future Tory budgets if they helped eliminate the current deficit by 2018. He said George Osborne had failed to meet his deficit targets since 2010 because he had shirked “tough choices”. UKIP would quit the EU, axe HS2 and cut the foreign aid budget to save cash. In a speech to UKIP activists in Margate, Kent, Mr Farage said he was “optimistic”, “upbeat” and “bullish” about his party’s chances at the general election. He predicted the party would get a “good number of UKIP MPs over the line” and emerge as the “main opposition to the Labour Party” in the north of England. Asked if he would support a future Conservative-led government if it was reliant on UKIP votes to get Budget proposals through Parliament, Mr Farage said he would, but only if it “sticks to its promises” to reduce the £90bn deficit on day-to-day spending. The government argues that it has halved the annual budget deficit since 2010 but Mr Farage said the Conservatives’ attempts to go further had been hampered by their Liberal Democrat coalition partners. TheMirror’s leader says that UKIP’s backing of the Conservatives on the deficit proves what the paper has been saying for years that: UKIP is just another Tory party.

Financial Times, Page: 4   Daily Express, Page: 2   Daily Mirror, Page: 6

 

 

POLICY

 

Welsh devolution deal dismissed as third-rate

Calls for a referendum on income tax powers for Wales have been rejected by the first minister, despite a pledge by David Cameron on minimum funding. Announcing plans for further devolution, the PM said it removed “the last remaining barriers” to a public vote on tax powers. Carwyn Jones insisted the two things were “not linked”, denouncing the offer on funding as a “vague promise”. He said UK ministers had given “no real commitment” to tackle underfunding. Under the plans announced on Friday, the Welsh government’s funding would not fall below a certain – as yet unspecified – level, with an expectation that a referendum on income tax would then take place. Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru, said the plans were “third-rate” devolution and fell “well short of the powers that can help us strengthen our communities”. The Government paper went “nowhere near getting the funding settlement that Wales is owed after decades of disadvantage”, she said.

The Independent, Page: 21   The Times, Page: 14   Financial Times, Page: 4

 

UKIP would cut billions from Scotland’s budget

UKIP is preparing a manifesto pledge to cut billions of pounds from Scotland’s budget to help to pay for tax cuts for English voters. Under the proposal subsidies currently paid from Westminster to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland under the Barnett formula would be abolished, saving up to £8bn a year. UKIP’s only Scottish MEP David Coburn defended the policy by suggesting that if Scotland “wants to spend more then it needs to raise more”. Suzanne Evans, UKIP’s deputy chairman who is in charge of the manifesto, claimed it showed the party was not “chasing votes” but was prepared to do “what is right”. She also announced that UKIP would slash foreign aid payments saving £11bn, and pulling out of the EU would save a further £10bn.

The Independent, Page: 12   Evening Standard, Page: 2

 

Labour would cut London business rates

Rachel Reeves has said that over 240,000 London firms would get a cut in business rates under Labour. In a speech billed as an “Economic Plan for London”, the shadow work and pensions secretary set out a raft of figures showing how Labour’s national policies would boost the capital’s prosperity. Ms Reeves said her “better plan” included boosting earnings for the lower-paid and giving firms the certainty that Britain would not leave the EU. Key figures for Londoners included plans to cut and then freeze business rates for 242,000 business properties in London; a lower 10p tax rate for 2.8m Londoners on middle and low incomes, funded by scrapping a marriage tax allowance due to come in during April; boosting the minimum wage to £8 before 2020, helping 111,000 Londoners in low-paid jobs; and encouraging the London Living Wage by offering a tax rebate to companies that sign up to it.

Evening Standard, Page: 4

 

Khan labelled hypocrite over housing scheme

Sadiq Khan, Labour’s minister for London, has come under fire from Conservative MPs, who have drawn attention to the fact he has asked AFC Wimbledon to review their application for 600 new homes in Tooting, despite having called for a housing revolution. Mr Khan said he shared concerns with locals over the impact of the scheme. A senior Tory figure, cited by the Sun, called the move “hypocritical”. Separately, the Expressdiscusses Conservative housing policy ahead of the general election. Next week, David Cameron will give a series of speeches on how the party looks to offer social renters the opportunity to own their home, claiming that the success of the Help to Buy scheme, stamp duty reforms and the party’s starter home scheme show that he is the right man for the top job when it comes to fixing the housing market.

The Sun, Page: 2    The Express, Page: 33

 

A solution to death tax reform?

The Telegraph’s Richard Dyson ponders an alternative to the Conservative’s mooted policy of raising the inheritance tax threshold to £1m. He considers the idea of making a family’s main home exempt from inheritance tax, up to a ceiling, while reducing the tax-free threshold for other assets.

The Daily Telegraph, Your Money, Page: 2

 

 

POLLS

 

Voters struggle to picture Miliband as PM

Stephen Shakespeare, CEO of YouGov, discusses the results of an experiment he conducted. Mr Shakespeare asked 3,219 people to predict the outcome of the election. That sample was randomly split into two, with one half (sample A) asked whether Labour or the Tories would win, and the other half (sample B) whether Ed Miliband or David Cameron would win. He notes that it is 99% certain that the two questions are, in practice, the same, and the prediction should therefore also be the same, but sample A showed 30% predicting a Labour win, but in sample B, 24% predicted Miliband would. It means, concludes Mr Shakespeare, that a section of voters struggle to imagine Miliband as PM and that, in essence, is why the experts expect a late swing as the reality of the choice becomes imminent.

The Times, Page: 15

 

Tories projected to win most seats

An analysis conducted by the Guardian has concluded that if the general election were held today, the Conservatives would win the most seats in parliament but David Cameron would struggle to form a government against a coalition led by Ed Miliband. The projection, based on all current polling, suggests the Tories would win 275 seats and Labour 271, both well short of the 326 needed to secure an outright majority and leaving their leaders fighting to form a viable government.

The Guardian, Page: 12-13

 

Increase in those who believe UKIP racist

A poll conducted for ITV News has found that 44% of the public believe that UKIP is a racist party – up 12 points from April last year.

The Independent, Page: 12

 

 

UKIP

 

UKIP accused of breaking EU funding rules

The Times reports that questions have been raised over UKIP’s use of EU funding for general election campaign materials. The paper claims that the party advised candidates in one of its confidential biweekly emails this month to “access materials” paid for by Brussels that argue that the EU is “damaging” to the UK’s national interests. Such leaflets are published with funding granted to Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy, the bloc of national parties that UKIP belongs to in the European parliament. Use of the money is governed by strict rules that state that the funding cannot “be used to finance any form of European, national, regional or local electoral campaign”. Labour MP Graham Jones said: “There are very serious questions for UKIP to answer here. UKIP attack Europe, but they seem happy to spend European taxpayers’ money on their campaigning.”

The Times, Page: 16

 

Farage denies health rumours

Nigel Farage has accused his political opponents of trying to undermine his leadership by spreading rumours about his health. The UKIP leader said: “Over the past four or five weeks there has been some speculation about my whereabouts – we are not going to play the same game as the other party leaders who are boring the great British public to death. There has been a lot of speculation about where have I been, why have I not been on the television all the time. This has led my opponents to spread some speculation about my health – that I am seriously ill and that is why I have not been seen.” He added: “I hate to disappoint my opponents, but can I make it clear that rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.”

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 6   Daily Mail, Page: 10

 

 

CONSERVATIVES

 

Parties urged to field minority mayoral candidates

Labour and the Conservatives have been urged to field a minority candidate for Mayor of London. Writing in the Evening Standard, former equalities watchdog chairman Trevor Phillips said both parties needed to build trust among minority communities, particularly the Tories. Pointing to low Conservative support among the growing black and minority ethnic community, he warned: “If Tory strategists can’t break this pattern, they can kiss goodbye to a Conservative Party ever again ruling Britain alone.” Mr Philips’ comments come as it emerged that senior Tories have been sounding out former footballer Sol Campbell to put himself forward as a candidate for London mayor.

Evening Standard, Page: 14

 

Schapps warned against all-women shortlist for Kensington

The Standard reports that Grant Schapps has been warned against trying to rig an all-women shortlist for the Tory seat of Kensington. According to the paper, a senior local Conservative raised concerns in the constituency over how Tory central office will mastermind the selection process to choose a successor to Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who is standing down in May. “Residents and activists will be appalled if they are not given a true choice,” he said. “If they upset the activists, they will upset a very large money-making machine when it comes to the General Election.”

Evening Standard, Page: 6

 

 

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

 

EU “obsession” could prevent coalition deal

The Mail reports that senior Lib Dems have warned that Nick Clegg’s “swivel-eyed” obsession with Europe could prevent a second coalition deal with the Conservatives. The Deputy PM has publicly said he will consider a deal with whoever emerges on top if the May election results in another hung parliament. But the paper claims party sources say that in private he has all but ruled out agreeing to a referendum – raising doubts about the viability of a deal with the Conservatives, and potentially forcing the party into a deal with Labour. One Lib Dem source told the paper that there was “no way” Clegg would sign up to Tory plans for a referendum on Europe. “There is no way he will sign up to plans that will allow the Tories to set the terms of a renegotiation, carry out that renegotiation and then hold a referendum on that basis which could see Britain leave the EU,” the source said.

Daily Mail, Page: 14

 

 

GOVERNMENT

 

Davis: Spy watchdog taken in by security agencies

The committee monitoring the security services has been taken in by the “glamour” of spying and is failing to do its job, its founder has said. Conservative MP David Davis said the Intelligence and Security Committee had been “captured by the agencies they are supposed to be overseeing”. And ex-chairman Sir Malcolm Rifkind acted as a “spokesman” for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ rather than a watchdog. Sir Malcolm said the criticisms were “ludicrous” and had no basis in fact. He said Mr Davis had been “captured” by the civil liberties lobby. Meanwhile, as the agencies faced fresh questions over their handling of Islamic State extremist Mohammed Emwazi, Mr Davis claims in an interview the Guardian, that the tactics employed by the UK’s intelligence agencies have allowed the terror threat to grow. “Given the numbers who appear to have ‘slipped through the net’, it is legitimate to ask, how many more people must die before we start to look more closely at the strategy of our intelligence services?” he wrote.

The Guardian, Page: 1, 6-7

 

 

ELECTORATE

 

Women historically boost Tories

Electoral statistics show that without women voters there would have been no Conservative governments between 1945 and 1979.

Daily Mail, Page: 14-15

 

 

SOCIAL

 

UK faces mobility split

According to a report by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, Britain could become a “permanently divided nation” unless political leaders cut poverty and improve social mobility. Only 7% of children attend private schools, yet 71% of top judges, 62% of military chiefs, 55% of Whitehall mandarins and 36% of the Cabinet have done. The report, chaired by former Labour minister Alan Milburn, says it would be a “mistake of catastrophic proportions” not to address the issue after the election.

Daily Mirror, Page: 2   The Daily Telegraph, Page: 2   Independent, Page: 21

 

 

OTHER

 

White & Gold or Blue & Black?

Labour tried to harness the power of yesterday’s viral sensation #TheDress to attack the Coalition. The opposition’s official Twitter account tweeted an animation featuring the slogan “White and gold or blue and black, they’ve both let the next generation down” superimposed over David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s faces. The light-hearted tiff  was meant to be a reference to the colour schemes of the Liberal Democrats and Conservative party. It also references the two colour combinations visible in the popular optical illusion of a dress which has divided the internet.

The Independent

 

Clarkson hits back at Dugher

Jeremy Clarkson has traded online insults with Michael Dugher, the shadow transport secretary, ridiculing him for wearing pink ties after Mr Dugher had branded him an “idiot”. The spat erupted on Thursday after Mr Dugher’s interview with the website Politics Home, in which he said that he had “no time” for the Top Gear presenter. “I mean, the guy is basically an idiot”, Mr Dugher said.

The Times, Page: 11   The Sun, Page: 2

 

Crabb gets trod on

Conservative Cabinet minister Stephen Crabb blames a Labour researcher for the fractured hand he recently suffered in a charity rugby match against political foes. “They marked me out as that horrible Welsh Secretary who says nasty things about Wales. I got trod on,” he said.

Daily Express, Page: 33

 

 

  

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George’s French Impressions

FI-Dordogne coverBest-selling author George East and his wife Donella have travelled coming up for a quarter of a million miles across France by car, bus, train, tram, bicycle, boat and even hot-air balloon.

En route they have stayed in every region and department of this richly diverse country.

More importantly, they have, by their rough calculation, eaten and drank at around  4,379 restaurants, bars, bistros and  country inns.  As the author admits, it has been a demanding pilgrimage, but he was more than prepared to take on the challenge and put on four stone in pursuit of culinary excellence.

Across the years, the Easts have written more than a million words in books, articles and blogs about their Gallic adventures, and collected an astonishing 3,000 traditional rural recipes.

At the same time, George has registered his sometimes controversial and quirky but always entertaining   impressions of the French regions and  their denizens.

His latest unique mix of information, anecdote, opinion and recipes is French Impressions: The Dordogne River. The book is in e-Kindle format and available to pre-order at amazon.co.uk and the paperback version will follow in April 2015.

The book takes readers on an affectionate voyage along the banks of one of France’s most iconic rivers, starting half way up a dead volcano in the Auvergne region and ending three hundred miles later in the Gironde estuary.

On the journey through five regions and six departments, the author examines the diverse cultures and communities, their sometimes turbulent history, and how the past informs the present in this deeply fascinating part of a great country.  He also tries to solve that age-old mystery of what makes the French so…French.

If you want to know where there be underground dragons, saints with a golden touch and how the good burghers of Sarlat make cat litter from walnut shells, French Impressions: The Dordogne River is the book for you. If you like armchair travelling or just love France, it’s your sort of book.

Title: French Impressions: The Dordogne River    Author:  George East       Publishers: La Puce Publications

Date of publication: 1st February 2015     Format:  e-Kindle format (paperback follows in April)    Price:  £3.27

Other books in the French Impressions series include:              The Loire Valley          Brittany

For more information about this title, please contact Fran Brooks on lapucepublications@hotmail.co.uk or visit www.george-east.net.

 

 

French Changes to Inheritance and Trusts Rules

Removal of obligation to appoint tax agents on sale

Non-French residents are subject to capital gains tax in France on their real estate disposals. Until 31 December 2014 it was necessary to appoint a tax agent for sales exceeding 150,000 to calculate the gain. These agents would charge a fee, generally in the region of 1% of the sale price for their services.

These types of arrangement have been criticised in other countries for being contrary to EU Law. In light of these decisions the French Government has amended legislation so that for sales completing on 1 January 2015 or later, sellers and shareholders of transparent companies (such as SCIs) are no longer subject to this obligation.

This exemption applies to tax payers who have their residence in the EU and within the European Economic Area (with the exception of Liechtenstein).

Capital gains tax applicable to non-EU residents

Previously France has operated a different capital gains tax rate for EU and non-EU residents. EU residents have paid at 19% whereas non-EU residents were subject to a 33.33% rate (with residents of black-listed states facing a 75% charge).

These rules have now changed so that a uniform rate applies to non-residents. Real property capital gains earned, as from 1/1/2015, by individual sellers or shareholders in transparent companies, who are domiciled in countries other than the EU/European Economic Area, become subject to capital gains tax at the rate of 19%.

Social charge claims

We are awaiting the final decision of the European Court on the application of social charges to non-French residents on rental income and real estate capital gains. The opinion of the Advocate-General, which is generally followed by the Court was against France.

Due to tight time limits any individuals who have sold French property and paid social charges should consider filing a claim for a refund as soon as possible.

David Anderson david.anderson@saplaw.co.uk

148_Sykes_Anderson_International_Tax_Oct14Please feel free to contact us with any questions on the above matters or any other legal query you may have. If it is on a topic we do not deal with we will almost certainly know someone who can. Our website www.saplaw.co.uk contains a lot of information and articles on our practice areas.

Sykes Anderson Perry Limited, 9 Devonshire Square, London EC2M  United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 317 8770   Fax: +44 (0)20 317 8771   www.saplaw.co.uk

Spring 2015

In the garden – March

At the time of writing we have had an reasonably mild winter, although we should still be prepared for cold weather into March.

But, so far everything in the garden is advancing and I even saw my first almond blossom on the 30th Jan.

In general, March is a month when we have longer days and there is lots to do in the garden.

  • start to remove winter protection from plants to start hardening them up, but remember to replace protection if frost is forecast
  • start to clean up the foliage on perennials, sub shrubs and deciduous grasses, cut back many plants to the base, sub shrubby sages such as the microphylla cultivars, perovskias, gauras etc will shoot up much more vigorously following a heavy cutting back.  If possible shred the prunings so that you them for putting organic material back into the soil.
  • cut back overgrown climbers such as honeysuckle (Lonicera)
  • deadhead spring bulbs as their flowers go over to encourage bulb growth unless you want to encourage your bulbs to self seed
  • compost or an organic soil improver such as “Or Brun” can be put around the base of shrubs
  • aerate the soil of your flower beds and keep ahead of the weeding
  • think about planting trees, shrubs and climbing plants  If you buy plants at this time of the year check to see if “ils ont été sorti d’une serre” ie brought out of a greenhouse.  It is usual for a grower to protect young plants in a greenhouse over winter but they may need some hardening off before planting.
  • prune roses
  • prune summer flowering shrubs which flower on the current season’s growth
  • if you have a lawn scarify it to remove moss and dried grass

Last month we wrote about herbs which are native to the Mediterranean basin and which require similar growing conditions in our gardens.  There are, of course, many other culinary herbs which we like to grow in our gardens and this month I’ll comment on annual herbs.

One of the most popular annual herbs is basil; basil seeds can be planted in small pots or godets this month and kept in a frost free environment ready for planting out into the garden or into larger pots in early May.  Basil likes a warm sunny position and a fair amount of water, in the vegetable garden it’s a good companion plant for tomatoes.  Summer savory is a good companion plant for beans and can be sown directly into your veg garden.

Parsley is strictly a biennial (ie it lives for two years, flowering in it’s second year) but it is useful to grow parsley every year to ensure a regular supply.   Again, parsley can be brought on in small pots or the seed can be planted directly into the ground, either in your vegetable bed or wherever there is a gap in the flower border.  Parsley likes some water and seems to do better if it receives some afternoon shade.

I’ve lost count of how many conversations I’ve had about the difficulty of growing coriander.  It grows easily from seed but goes to seed very quickly, which is no help when you want the foliage for garnishing your curries.  You can try to grow coriander from seed in the spring although a number of people find that it does best if you set seed in September.  It does need quite a lot of water and shading from the afternoon sun.  I’ll confess that I have given up and get my leaf coriander from Carcassonne market!

There are other annual herbs that you might like to try and grow from seed such as dill and chervil but both these are plants for a cooler climate and run to seed quickly if they are too hot and dry.

Just a reminder that we still places available on our spring gardening courses.   The courses detailed below will be held at La Petite Pépinière in Caunes-Minervois (11160) and will be tutored by Gill Pound, nursery proprietor.  All courses are designed for a group of seven to eleven participants.  Course fees quoted include coffees, teas etc and you are asked to bring a packed lunch.

57_Petit_Pep_March15An Introduction to Pruning – Wednesday 18th March, 10am to 4pm

This will be an introduction to the principles and practice of pruning, why, when and how.  Practical work in the garden here will be included and we will focus on pruning practices relating to plants frequently found in gardens in the region.

Course fee:  45€

Propagation:  Thursday 19th March, 10am to 4pm

An introduction to the principles of propagation – how to increase your own plants by layering, division, seeds and cuttings.  Plenty of practical work

Course fee:  45€

If you are interested in either of the above and the dates are inconvenient do get in touch anyway, it may be possible to change dates or to run an additional course.

Tailor made courses: 

For groups of six/seven people it may be possible to tailor make a course to meet your needs; if this is of interest to a club/society/group of friends that you belong to then do get in touch indicating your area(s) of interest.  Guided visits of the garden at La Petite Pépinière are also available.

For further information contact Gill Pound at La Petite Pépinière de Caunes, 21, Avenue de la Montagne Noire, (route de Citou) 11160, Caunes-Minervois.  Tel: 04 68 78 43 81, email Gill@lapetitepepiniere.com

www.lapetitepepiniere.com

The choice of books for your March reading . . .

 Lone Jack Kid: The Return: A Western Adventure – Book 2

by Joe Corso
 51SMBqqZDKL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_
In The Adventures of The Lone Jack Kid we learnt how Charles Longstreet earns the name of The Lone Jack Kid and follow his adventures in an era where lawlessness was at its peak. This was the time of cowboys and Indians, when Sheriffs tried to keep the law, gunslingers were on every corner and life was cheap.
The year is 1868, and this book opens as Charles Longstreet, or The Lone Jack Kid finishes a year on the stage in New York giving shooting demonstrations following the outstanding success of Ned Buntlines books about his previous adventures.
In her luxury apartment in the Broadway Central Hotel, the actress Sarah Bernhart receives a surprise, a beautiful diamond ring as a gift from Charles in thanks for her friendship and help.
Whilst Charles is on a train heading for Kansas City. On board, he discovers that he has an unexpected presents too, from Boss Tweed in thanks for his shooting performances, a beautiful horse, fancy saddle and a new Winchester rifle.
Arriving at Kansas he is looking forward to spending some time there, however, he soon finds that tongues are wagging and his reputation has followed him closely. So, there, as in every place, despite trying to remain anonymous, his real identity is discovered, and he is challenged by gunslingers, each one intent on proving they can draw faster, and ultimately paying with their lives.
Then, one night he is ambushed and left for dead, but he isn’t! Thus begins his search for the perpetrators and revenge.
As he travels the trails from one place to another, he has many adventures and finds himself helping lawmen, Indians and the white man alike.
His sense of justice earns him the respect of many, and he is even called to the Whitehouse for a meeting with President Ulysses S. Grant. Once there, he discovers that the president is in need of his help with the Indians, and offers him a very important job…
If you are fans of cowboys and Indian’s and the Wild West then you are going to love this book. Although it does mention some of the characters from the previous book The Adventures of the Lone Jack Kid, it is just as enjoyable to read as a stand-alone.
Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Black Tar: For the Love of Heroin

by Stephen E. Crockett
 51Dw0MZK5ML._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_
 A frank look at drug addiction.  
Well, I must start off this review by admitting that before reading this book I had no idea about the world I was about to enter as I turned its pages. I suppose for many that may sound a naïve comment but it’s true, that’s not to say I don’t understand an addictive personality, I do, anyone can have an addiction to any number of things, but the world of drugs was new to me.
This very frank autobiography starts at the very beginning, as they say as we learn how he suffered a terrible fever with which he experienced hallucinations by day, and night terrors at night, aged twelve in 1972. His teenage years were, I suppose typical for many children at that time, and he experimented with drugs and alcohol, and embraced the rock and roll culture of that era. Soon however, his experimentation with increasing more potent drugs became a heroin addiction which was to influence his life for many years.
Throughout this book his world is eye-opener. His obsession with the girl with the golden eyes (Heroin) overtakes his existence, and despite managing to stop taking it at various times, his life seems to be one of continual struggle just to survive.
As we travel life’s journey with him, there are no holds barred, everything is laid out in front of us, the love, death, tragedies and despair, until we find ourselves wondering, how can one man survive so much?
But, survive he did, but is he clean?
The bravery of this author in opening up like he has, must be admired, I found this book extremely interesting, however, I can see that if you have a family member or friend in the same situation, this could well be invaluable as an aid to understanding them.
Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Adventures of Sammy the Dalmatian and Friends

by D.C. Rush
 51IgsSff3TL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_
This is an enchanting story about three dogs who live in Sun City a retirement community. Sammy is a Dalmatian, who is a Fire Department retired Lead Fire Dog, Mason is a great big Rottweiler who’s really a big softie, and then there’s Jewel a beautiful Golden Retriever who when she’s not playing dutifully protects her family’s house.
The dogs are great friends and meet up regularly, so when Mason doesn’t arrive one day, the others go round to his house to see where he is.
But he’s not there! Eventually, he arrives, panting and very tired. He tells his friends he has been through a terrible ordeal, he has been dognapped, but he managed to escape. After Mason reveals that in the big barn he was taken to there were other dogs in cages, Sammy and Jewel leave him to recover and set out see if they can discover where he was held.
When they find the place they report back to Mason and together the three friends hatch a clever plan. However, for it to succeed they need some help from Sammy’s son, Siren, the new Lead Fire Dog, and one of Sammy’s oldest and dearest friend a calico cat called Peaches.
Will their plan succeed?
Will the terrible dognappers be caught?
To discover the plan and find out what happens, you will have to read the book.
Many children love animals and for me an added bonus to the books by this author is the way the characters of the animals and birds involved shine through. The distinctive personalities of the different dog breeds are so good in this book, as are the bird types in the Robby’s Quest series, and the cats in Hershey Learns a Lesson.
Yet again D. C. Rush has written a wonderful, gentle story for children which teaches them the difference between right and wrong in an easily understood way, and it is beautifully illustrated by the very talented Daniela Frongia.
Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Ruby ShinesBright and the Birthday cake

by RosaBella Bloom

9k=Ruth ShinesBright is a very special little girl. She lives in a place called Flooperville and has a red stone on her tummy which shines bright when she is happy and well.

She is very excited because tomorrow is going to be a special day for her, it’s her fifth birthday.

Her granny Ruth has made her a beautiful cake and it’s sitting in the kitchen ready, however, Ruby can’t wait until her party, and so naughtily she sneaks down in the night and accompanied by her little black kitten Dotty, she eats it all!

The next morning her granny is very unhappy with her, and poor little Ruby’s stone on her tummy is very dull. She feels very unwell and deeply regrets eating all that cake. What’s more, her granny wants to know what they are going to give her friends to eat when they arrive for her party later.

Then, Ruby has a great idea, and with help from her granny she makes a delicious cake of fruits which all her family and friends love.

And when the time comes for her to blow out her candles, can you guess what she wishes for?

To find out, you’ll have to read the book!

This is a wonderful story for children and is beautifully illustrated by the talented artist Jackie Atkin.

 

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Amazon.co.uk  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ruby-ShinesBright-Birthday-RosaBella-Bloom/dp/1505282837/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424627622&sr=8-1&keywords=ruby+shinesbright

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