Lords vote to ban tax exiles and non-doms from donating to political parties

by Stephen Tall on June 16, 2009

Today’s Guardian reports on yesterday’s move by the House of Lords to accept an amendment which will ban tax exiles and non-doms from making a donation to British political parties. The amendment was moved by rebel Labour peer Lord (Dale) Campbell-Savours and backed by Lib Dem peers.

Peers last night voted to ban non-residents and so called “non-doms” from donating to political parties, in defiance of the Labour and Conservative frontbenches. A backbench Labour amendment, designed to force the Tory donor Lord Ashcroft to clarify his tax affairs, was passed by 107 votes to 85, a majority of 22.

The amendment to the political parties and elections bill, tabled by the former Labour MP Lord Campbell-Savours, was based on an amendment which was blocked from debate in the Commons. The vote last night means that MPs will be given a chance to debate and vote on the issue.

Here’s an excerpt from Lord (Paul) Tyler’s speech:

If we leave the Bill as it is, without a clear statement that these sorts of donations from foreign sources are not permissible, the Bill will not fulfil the requirements that the Government have placed upon it. Even since the Bill was in Grand Committee, there is greater awareness of the potential corruption of our political system by people with very large chequebooks who can buy their way into influencing a relatively small number of constituencies, the marginal seats. It takes us right the way back to the purchase of seats before the Reform Act 1832. As the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, said, unless we stand up for the right of citizens of this country who pay taxes to be the people who decide how our political system works, the House of Commons will not get its opportunity, and the Bill will be weaker for it.

His Lib Dem colleague, Lord (Matthew) Oakeshott also voiced his strong support for the amendment:

It is outrageous that non-resident Peers can sit and vote on our laws in this House, but it is even more outrageous that a person who does not pay full British tax can pay millions to a political party—money that is, in effect, filched from the British taxpayer by that person because he is not resident here and does not pay tax but can influence millions of votes.

A small but significant victory – now let’s see what the Labour/Tory-dominated House of Commons does…