Oakeshott asks Ashcroft the simple question: “Are you a non dom or not?”

by Stephen Tall on December 14, 2009

David Cameron, yesterday, on Sky News:

I think it time to pass a law that says that if you want to be in the Houses of Parliament, if you want to be a legislator, you need to be or be treated as a full UK taxpayer.”

And quite right, too. But what has prompted the Tories’ Damascene conversion? After all, they had the opportunity earlier this year to vote for exactly what Mr Cameron is now, belatedly and under media pressure, calling for.

Lord (Matthew) Oakeshott’s House of Lords (Members’ Taxation Status) Bill had its second reading on 23 January 2009, and committee stage on 12 March 2009. Clause 1:1 urges:

A Member of the House of Lords is deemed to be resident, ordinarily resident and domiciled in the United Kingdom and in no other country for taxation purposes.”

Yet Lord Oakeshott’s bill has been blocked by Tory filibuster and wrecking amendments in the Lords, led by the party’s leader, Lord Strathclyde. At least until now … let us hope that David Cameron’s change of heart will influence his Parliamentary colleagues to drop their opposition.

If they do, it will be the result of the party’s embarrassment over the tax affairs of one man in particular, the highly influential Lord (Michael) Ashcroft, the Tory peer, deputy party chairman and major donor whom the Tory party is too afraid to stand up to this side of the general election. Lord Oakeshott has today written to his fellow peer, asking him to clarify whether he is a non-dom or not.

Here’s the full text of his letter:

Dear Lord Ashcroft

Your Tax Status

Your leader David Cameron said yesterday: “There are members of the House of Lords whose tax status is unclear. If you want to sit in the House of Lords or Commons you have to be a fully resident UK taxpayer”. Philip Hammond, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, confirmed this morning this meant peers must be “Resident, ordinarily resident and domiciled in the United Kingdom for tax purposes”.

You are Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, a leading donor and Conservative peer and, in Mr Cameron’s words your “tax status is unclear”. Are you a non dom or not?

Yours sincerely

Lord Oakeshott

As Lord Oakeshott comments:

Time and time again, senior Tories have failed to clarify Lord Ashcroft’s tax status. If it’s wrong for non-doms to sit in the Lords after the election, it’s equally wrong for them to sit in it now.”