Lord Paul is a Labour peer, non-domiciled for tax purposes, who was inexplicably appointed a Privy Councillor last year. He has also donated tens of thousands of pounds to the Labour Party and to Gordon Brown's leadership campaign (Iain Dale posted a list of eight Labour big money donors who are reportedly non-dom earlier in the week).
Greg Hands, the Conservative MP for Hammersmith and Fulham, has now submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice
requesting sight of documents and information relating to:
- the appointment of Lord Paul to the Privy Council in July last year;
- the number of times he has attended Privy Council meetings; and
- his swearing in into the Privy Council and the current investigation into his alleged misuse of parliamentary expenses.
Hands' letter to the Ministry of Justice sets out his concerns about Lord Paul's appointment to the Privy Council:
"It has been previously suggested that the appointment of Lord Paul to the Privy Council may have been related to his bankrolling of the Prime Minister’s leadership campaign and close friendship with Gordon Brown. Lord Paul has himself previously claimed that he would give ‘as much as I can afford’ to help Labour re-election campaign fund.
"Lord Paul does not attend Cabinet, nor has he ever attended Cabinet and the highest position he has achieved in public life was being one of 18 deputy speakers of the Lords. There is no current precedent for someone so junior to be made a Privy Councillor in this way. The only similar comparison in terms of that office is Lord Ampthill who was made a Privy Councillor in 1995. Yet he had been Chairman of Committees of the House of Lords for two years, and had been a Deputy Speaker continually since 1983 (i.e. significant length of service).
"The Government has previously stated that he was appointed because he was the first deputy speaker of the Lords from an ethnic minority. However, Keith Vaz was appointed to the Privy Council in 2006, seven years after he was made Britain’s first Asian minister."