Lib Dems challenge Tory tax plans

Andy McSmith
Tuesday 15 December 2009 01:00

David Cameron was challenged yesterday not to wait for an election before enacting his plan to compel MPs and peers to pay taxes in the UK.

The Liberal Democrats offered him the chance to use their two parties' combined majority in the Lords to rush a bill through in the New Year.

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said it was "outrageous" that the tax status of the Tories' deputy chairman, Michael Ashcroft, has still not been made public. "We have put forward this legislation on three separate occasions and we have not had support from either the Conservatives or Labour," he said.

Mr Cameron has promised that if his party wins the election, his government will bring in legislation which will mean that, for tax purposes, all members of both the Commons and Lords will be deemed by HM Customs and Revenue to be living in the UK.

His promise was designed to quell the controversy over Lord Ashcroft, who promised to become a UK resident when he was awarded a peerage in 2000, but refuses to discuss where he lives on the grounds that it is private.

A panel of MPs and other "insiders" polled yesterday by the PoliticsHome website found that an overwhelming majority did not believe that Mr Cameron's recent announcement "will prevent the issue of Lord Ashcroft's tax status from resurfacing". The website is majority owned by Lord Ashcroft.

The shadow Treasury minister, Philip Hammond, accused the Lib Dems of "playing games" and running a "vendetta" against Lord Ashcroft.

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