Exclusive: Lord Paul to end his non-domiciled tax status

Bold move by Labour peer will put pressure back on his Tory critics.

In an exclusive interview with the New Statesman, the Labour peer and long-time party donor Lord Paul of Marylebone says he is to end his controversial "non-dom" tax status. He says:

On the issue of taxation position of peers, of course it goes without saying that I'll be fully complying with the change of law which the government is bringing forward. I strongly support the government proposals in relation to the taxation status of peers and MPs and the membership of the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

On the subject of the police investigation into his House of Lords expenses, Lord Paul reveals:

I am delighted to announce today that the Metropolitan Police Service have informed me that it has decided after due consideration that it will no longer be proceeding with any investigation or inquiry in relation to my House of Lords expenses. I very much welcome the police decision.

So will he be ending his non-dom status from the next tax year? "That's right," he says.

Asked about his views on the Tories and their attempt to involve him in the non-dom row about Lord Ashcroft, he says:

I think they have been caught with their pants down, and what better than try to reflect on others? First of all, I am a born domicile. I am born in India. He was the only one who was asked to pay full taxes. Nobody asked me. I have always been open about my non-domiciled status. There are lots of non-doms in the House of Lords, but I don't know of any case where they were asked to pay full tax, apart from Lord Ashcroft.

He adds:

I am not buying MPs, seats or the party. I have no interest in being a minister. I'm too old for it anyway. The Tories seem to be confused. And don't forget I was appointed a peer by John Major, not by the Labour government of Tony Blair or Gordon Brown.

Asked how much his decision will cost him, in terms of tax contributions to the Exchequer, the Labour donor reveals:

Definitely not millions of pounds, or hundreds of thousands.

Lord Paul also clarifies the speculation over the nature of his donations, saying:

I have never given a personal donation to the Labour Party.

He adds, with regard to the controversy over his appointment to the Privy Council in 2009:

My contribution to this country is perhaps bigger than a lot of people who are privy councillors. I don't think it is a monopoly for ex-ministers and ministers to be members of the Privy Council. I bought steel companies in Britain and brought them to health and made the industry fashionable again in the 1980s. We have 3,500 employees in this country right now.

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Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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A swimming pool and a bleeding toe put my medical competency in doubt

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Sometimes the search engine wins. 

The brutal heatwave affecting southern Europe this summer has become known among locals as “Lucifer”. Having just returned from Italy, I fully understand the nickname. An early excursion caused the beginnings of sunstroke, so we abandoned plans to explore the cultural heritage of the Amalfi region and strayed no further than five metres from the hotel pool for the rest of the week.

The children were delighted, particularly my 12-year-old stepdaughter, Gracie, who proceeded to spend hours at a time playing in the water. Towelling herself after one long session, she noticed something odd.

“What’s happened there?” she asked, holding her foot aloft in front of my face.

I inspected the proffered appendage: on the underside of her big toe was an oblong area of glistening red flesh that looked like a chunk of raw steak.

“Did you injure it?”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t hurt at all.”

I shrugged and said she must have grazed it. She wasn’t convinced, pointing out that she would remember if she had done that. She has great faith in plasters, though, and once it was dressed she forgot all about it. I dismissed it, too, assuming it was one of those things.

By the end of the next day, the pulp on the underside of all of her toes looked the same. As the doctor in the family, I felt under some pressure to come up with an explanation. I made up something about burns from the hot paving slabs around the pool. Gracie didn’t say as much, but her look suggested a dawning scepticism over my claims to hold a medical degree.

The next day, Gracie and her new-found holiday playmate, Eve, abruptly terminated a marathon piggy-in-the-middle session in the pool with Eve’s dad. “Our feet are bleeding,” they announced, somewhat incredulously. Sure enough, bright-red blood was flowing, apparently painlessly, from the bottoms of their big toes.

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Often, what patients discover on the internet causes them undue alarm, and our role is to provide context and reassurance. But not infrequently, people come across information that outstrips our knowledge. On my return from our room with fresh supplies of plasters, my wife looked up from her sun lounger with an air of quiet amusement.

“It’s called ‘pool toe’,” she said, handing me her iPhone. The page she had tracked down described the girls’ situation exactly: friction burns, most commonly seen in children, caused by repetitive hopping about on the abrasive floors of swimming pools. Doctors practising in hot countries must see it all the time. I doubt it presents often to British GPs.

I remained puzzled about the lack of pain. The injuries looked bad, but neither Gracie nor Eve was particularly bothered. Here the internet drew a blank, but I suspect it has to do with the “pruning” of our skin that we’re all familiar with after a soak in the bath. This only occurs over the pulps of our fingers and toes. It was once thought to be caused by water diffusing into skin cells, making them swell, but the truth is far more fascinating.

The wrinkling is an active process, triggered by immersion, in which the blood supply to the pulp regions is switched off, causing the skin there to shrink and pucker. This creates the biological equivalent of tyre treads on our fingers and toes and markedly improves our grip – of great evolutionary advantage when grasping slippery fish in a river, or if trying to maintain balance on slick wet rocks.

The flip side of this is much greater friction, leading to abrasion of the skin through repeated micro-trauma. And the lack of blood flow causes nerves to shut down, depriving us of the pain that would otherwise alert us to the ongoing tissue damage. An adaptation that helped our ancestors hunt in rivers proves considerably less use on a modern summer holiday.

I may not have seen much of the local heritage, but the trip to Italy taught me something new all the same. 

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear