It’s now one year since the Queen, with a fanfare of publicity, signed the Commonwealth Charter. At the ceremony She said; “This carefully worded document is to re-invigorate the Commonwealth to be fit and agile in the years ahead”. The Charter itself contains the significant statement; “We [the Commonwealth] are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination”.
Challenged, a few months later, on this point of the Commonwealth’s supposed “implacable opposition to discrimination”, the British Pensions Minister, Steve Webb replied; “The Commonwealth Charter is not a human rights instrument. Rather it is a broad statement of common values”.
If this is the case, why bother to have this Charter prepared and signed by the Queen at all? What value is there in the Charter if the British Government, ignores its aspirations by selectively freezing the UK pensions of just a fraction, 4%, of its UK expatriate pensioner population?
This is British Government practice because there is an old law in place to support this policy and most of these retired pensioners are living mainly in Commonwealth countries, which have no specific bi-lateral agreement with the UK to index the UK State pensions in these countries.
Varying the amount of British pensions paid according to the country in which some pensioners are retired is, by definition, blatant discrimination.
Such an immoral Government practice is so uncharacteristic of the values most British people regard themselves proud to uphold; but this practice has denigrated the Commonwealth Charter’s value and represents an affront by Britain’s government to the Queen, whose signing of the Charter was so celebrated one year ago.
Hon Chairman, British Pensions in Australia Inc