Thursday, 18 March 2010

"Lord Ashcroft and William Hague to snub Commons inquiry into peerage" (The Times)

Here is the link to the story in today's Times -

and here is the story:

"Lord Ashcroft and William Hague will snub an inquiry into how the billionaire party donor was elevated to the House of Lords after the Conservatives said the event was biased.

David Cameron approved the decision for all Tory parliamentarians to boycott a Commons hearing into what promises were made before the businessman became a peer.

Lord Ashcroft has disclosed he is “non-domiciled” in Britain for tax purposes although he signed a solemn, binding pledge to Mr Hague that he would return from abroad to take his seat in 2000.

The peer says the Government officially confirmed that his offer to be a permanent resident meant long-term residence, allowing him to escape British taxes on his overseas fortune.

Sir George Young, shadow leader of the House, has written to the Public Administration Committee chairman, the Labour MP Tony Wright, explaining why the main witnesses will be absent.

“In the days immediately preceding the dissolution of this Parliament, this inquiry inevitably risks being seen as partisan. I am writing to let you know that my Parliamentary colleagues who have been invited to attend are not inclined to do so,” Sir George wrote.

“I think it best if these sorts of issues are explored in the round, and on a genuine cross-party basis, in the next Parliament.”

Sir George noted that the Tory members of the all-party committee had declined to take part, “inevitably undermining the authority of any report which might be issued.”

Baroness Dean, who sat on the honours scrutiny committee which repeatedly vetoed Michael Ashcroft’s nomination to the Lords, will break that panel’s long silence by giving evidence.

Sir Hayden Phillips, the Government official who clarified the terms of the controversial peerage with Mr Hague’s chief whip, will attend. Unpublished documents about the affair will be released."

My on-line comment is as follows:

"This does not look good. What have they got to hide until 'the next Parliament'? It stinks, as does the Lord Paul business, but in his case to a lesser extent because he gave thousands whilst Ashcroft gave millions. Don't these people realise that they all give politics such a bad name? I ask the people of South East Cambridgeshire (where I am the independent candidate) and the people have very little confidence or faith in any of them at Westminster. It's all very worrying. We must restore trust in Parliament."

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