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Bill would force tax-exile peers to give up titles

Five peers who resigned their seats in the House of Lords for tax reasons, but are still being allowed to continue to style themselves as Lord or Baroness, face the prospect of being formally stripped of their titles.

There was outrage yesterday that the five, who all claim “non-dom” status to protect themselves from paying UK tax on overseas earnings, can continue to use the titles, although they will never be allowed to go back as serving members of the Lords. John Mann, a Labour MP who campaigned against the misuse of MPs' expenses, plans to bring in a bill in the House of Commons which would strip the five of their titles.

He will also write to the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who is in charge of the Government's political reform programme, urging him to make sure there is enough Parliamentary time for his Bill to be debated.

Mr Mann said: “This is outrageous. It is quite extraordinary. It is a British title, so they should be in this country, paying taxes like everyone else or begging for the title to be taken off them. If it requires legislation, let's legislate.”

Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor, confirmed that there was no legal precedent for stripping a peer of his title, unless he had committed treason, but added: “I cannot believe there isn't a method of doing it.” The Labour MP Paul Flynn said: “They should accept that they no longer have the right to those titles. Using them would not bring them any credit. It would bring them shame.”

Although there is a growing feeling in Britain that these old aristocratic titles are out of date, there are parts of the world where they can be highly advantageous when doing business.

None of the five, all of whom have interests abroad, was forthcoming yesterday about whether they would stop using their titles.

But a spokeswoman for the architect, Norman Foster, said that he was “expected” to continue to style himself Lord Foster of Thames Bank, as he is allowed to by law. Lord Foster was awarded his peerage in 1999, formally took his seat in 2002, and last spoke in 2003.

Belfast Telegraph