I wrote this afternoon about concerns over the Tory amendment designed to force all peers and MPs to pay tax in the UK. Labour had spotted that the phrasing of the amendment – any UK legislator had to be “domiciled and ordinarily resident in the UK” – could be used as a loophole (something the Tories denied vehemently).
How come the wording stopped short of Philip Hammond’s claim yesterday that all legislators “would have to be resident, ordinarily resident and domiciled”?
Was it cock-up or conspiracy?
The Tories claimed that they went for their choice of phrase because they believed it was the widest possible term. In fact, I’m told by tax expert Mike Warburton, those who are ordinarily resident (but not resident) can escape tax on income and savings from abroad.
Now they have executed a prompt volte-face and are going to put down a new amendment tomorrow. It will embrace Hammond’s choice of words.
Jack Straw, justice secretary, is busy making hay:
“If ever evidence were needed that the Conservatives are all talk and no substance, this is it. It is deeply embarassing not to say inept that they couldn’t even draft a simple amendment which made sense.”
Harriet Harman is stepping in for Gordon Brown during today’s PMQs. I’m told that Downing Street advisers are already scripting various barbs for Ms Harman to goad her opposite number over Lord Ashcroft – who is still refusing to talk in public about his tax status.