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6.30 pm

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay: I am happy to respond to that but I am trying to answer the first amendment. I am happy to accept—indeed, it was the whole point of the article—that the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, is close to David Cameron, but I hope that I may make the key point that I was trying to make, particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, but also to other noble Lords who have spoken, almost entirely from the Conservative Benches. That is why this debate is not a fair reflection—as when we had a vote in the previous Session—of views all round the Committee, because we have hardly started to have a proper discussion on the substance. The point is that we are not seeking to change anyone’s taxation status. All we are saying is that if you make the laws in this country, you pay the tax. We are not making anyone, wherever they come from, change their status; we are asking that they pay. That is why I am afraid that the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, fascinating though it is, is entirely misconceived and entirely misses the point, and I am not prepared to accept it.

Viscount Astor: Before my noble friend responds, I hope that I may ask the noble Lord, Lord Oakeshott, a question. My noble friend’s amendment seeks to amend Clause 1(1). The noble Lord’s Bill states:

“A Member of the House of Lords is deemed to be resident”.

The advice that is offered by HM Treasury on domicile and residence states that it is not in itself a tax concept but one of general law. Therefore, is the noble Lord, Lord Oakeshott, clear that the word “deemed” is applicable in these circumstances and would be accepted by the Treasury?

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay: It will have to be accepted by the Treasury if we pass the Bill that says so. I base my remarks on the fact that my noble friend Lord Goodhart has worked on this with me, has earned a very good living for many years advising people on these matters and is one of the leading experts in this field. The key point about domicile, which is a simple statement of fact, is that in order to claim non-domicile status for tax purposes—that is not the same as your domicile of origin; the domicile of origin of my noble friend Lord Goodhart is America but he chose not to use that loophole, if I can put it that way—on your tax return every year you sign a form which says that you do not intend to stay permanently in this country. How can any Member of this House in all conscience sign that form?

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Baroness Gardner of Parkes: I must intervene on that point. It is not correct that you sign a form saying that you do not intend to remain in this country. You have to have an intention of returning to your own country at some point, but that can be a moving target. For example, it could be when your first child is born, then when your first child is 10. It does not have to be a fixed target at all. Therefore, the noble Lord’s statement is wrong. He also said that the Bill is not intended to change anyone’s taxation status. Yet, Clause 1(1) states that you are,

That is an attempt not only to change your taxation status but to change your status in your country of origin, whatever that may be.

The noble Lord has not really covered a further point. He keeps talking about the £30,000 figure and saying how marvellous that is for someone who has a heap of money. Sure enough, it may be. I remember that the famous Harrods man was very concerned when the right to pay only £250,000 in tax a year was taken away. If he were still living in this country, instead of having moved to Switzerland, £30,000 would seem a good bargain to him by comparison. If people have an income that would attract tax of less than £30,000, they have the option of just paying tax on whatever it is. You might have to pay tax of only £5,000. It depends purely on what your income is in the other country. Even the expert noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, has said that the phrase,

needs to be looked at. I draw the noble Lord’s attention to the statement that the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, made.

Lord Selsdon: I intervened only because the noble Lord—I have forgotten his name—actually called me an Earl. That was why I intervened quietly, just to say I was not an Earl.

I have been concerned and I should like the noble Lord, Lord Oakeshott, to respond to my first questions. Did he make those statements that appeared in the newspapers, or did he not? Who was he accusing?

There is a bit of confusion here. My amendment does not affect most of his Bill, it simply states:

“Any Member introduced into the House after the passing of this Act shall be a British citizen”.

So we should not exclude those. The list is only there because there was no one in the Foreign Office or anywhere else who could tell me what the list should be, because the Government do not have lists. This list is correct and I wanted to put it in the Bill—this is the point—so that those who were British subjects would not feel automatically if all these changes took place that they could not come here. I would have added Members of the House of Commons and elected members of local authorities, because the same principle—that if you make laws in this country you should pay tax in this country—is generally accepted.

Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Oakeshott, would answer my questions about his statements, because accusations and cross-accusations have triggered this slightly heated debate.

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Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay: Before the noble Lord sits down, because he is obviously replying, I am happy to clarify, although I did not think that it was worth it, that those statements were actually made in the Sunday Times, but these days the Murdoch press, particularly the Telegraph, reprints large chunks of what has been in the British papers. I noticed that when I was in Australia last year. So, yes I did and they were in the Sunday Times. I hope that deals with that and that we can get on with the substance.

Lord Selsdon: The question was also in the Telegraph the other way round, because I do not approve of the accusation relating to the question of who funds political parties, and find it rather distasteful and distressful and that it lets down the whole House. That is why I have added the code of conduct to the Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Steel.

I do not know whether there is any support for this amendment. The Minister said that he did not like it, but I do not see what is wrong in saying that any new Member who is introduced should be a British subject. I should like to test the opinion of the House, and if everyone says no, I shall sit down.

6.37 pm

Division on Amendment 1

Contents 8; Not-Contents 37.

Amendment 1 disagreed.

12 Mar 2009 : Column 1382

Division No. 1


Astor, V.
Colwyn, L.
Ferrers, E.
Fookes, B.
Lyell, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Selsdon, L. [Teller]
Trefgarne, L. [Teller]


Addington, L.
Barker, B.
Bilston, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Dear, L.
Donoughue, L.
D'Souza, B.
Eatwell, L.
Elder, L.
Elystan-Morgan, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Goodhart, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Haworth, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L.
Judd, L.
Kerr of Kinlochard, L.
Kirkwood of Kirkhope, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
McDonagh, B.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Maxton, L.
Neuberger, B.
Newby, L.
Norton of Louth, L.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
Puttnam, L.
Roberts of Llandudno, L. [Teller]
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L. [Teller]
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Taverne, L.
Teverson, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Tope, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.

House resumed.

Royal Assent

6.48 pm

The following Acts were given Royal Assent:

Appropriation Act 2009,Northern Ireland Act 2009.

House adjourned at 6.49 pm.

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