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Self-Employed Persons

Volume 973: debated on Thursday 8 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will make a statement on the position of the self-employed with regard to reciprocal benefits within the EEC;(2) whether self-employed people, who have in the past been employees and have paid class 1 contributions, automatically receive reciprocal benefits within the EEC when they are (

a) on holiday, ( b) on short business trips and ( c) on long business

trips; and whether his Department differentiates between different types of visits.

I assume that my hon. Friend is concerned primarily with health care.The provision of both health care and cash benefits to nationals of the EEC countries who move from one part of the Community to another is governed by the EEC regulations on social security for migrant workers. The regulations apply at present only to persons who are or have been insured as employees, and to the members of the families of such persons but proposals for their extension to the self-employed are currently under consideration in Brussels.Self-employed contributors in the United Kingdom who have previously worked here for an employer may secure the advantages of the regulations by virtue of their earlier insurance as employed persons. Their cover for health care under the regulations in these circumstances depends on whether they remain ordinarily resident here while they are in the other country. Those who go as at (

a) or ( b) would normally satisfy this condition, and they and their families could expect to receive treatment under the regulations for any condition which required immediate attention during their stay in the other country. Those who go as at ( c) may find that they are required to become insured under the other country's scheme, in which event they would normally expect to be covered for medical treatment there by that means; otherwise, to secure the cover of the EEC regulations, they need to show that they remain ordinarily resident here during their prolonged absence.

The question of ordinary residence can be decided only on the facts of the individual case. Those who believe that they may be covered by the regulations during their absence, therefore, would generally be well-advised to apply to their local social security office for a certificate of entitlement before they leave.

Anyone visiting Germany, Denmark or Gibraltar who is not covered by the EEC regulations, will usually be able to qualify for any urgent treatment that may be needed while he is away under the terms of our bilateral agreements with those countries.