HUDDERSFIELD MP Barry Sheerman claimed that he was warned about pursuing issues relating to Lord Ashcroft’s tax status in the Commons.
Mr Sheerman alleged in the House of Commons that he was told by a Tory backbencher to “keep quiet” because Lord Ashcroft had a “way of exacting retribution” on his critics.
Mr Sheerman, chairman of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee, was calling for a Commons debate after Lord Ashcroft admitted to being a “non-dom”.
British citizens with interests abroad can register for “non-domiciled” status and not pay tax on earnings made outside the UK, although since 2008 an annual charge of £30,000 has been made to those claiming “non-dom” status while being UK residents for more than seven out of the past 10 years.
In a point of order to Speaker John Bercow, Mr Sheerman said: “Some months ago, when I was raising the question of my concerns about Lord Ashcroft, I was, in a kindly and friendly way, warned by a backbench Conservative MP that I should keep quiet because Lord Ashcroft had a way of exacting retribution from his critics.”
He said the Tory MP, who he did not identify, had “expressed the view that he, personally, would not cross Lord Ashcroft”.
And he added: “Given this morning’s revelations about Lord Ashcroft’s true status, is there an opportunity in this House to discuss Lord Ashcroft and the process by which he became a Member of the House of Lords.”
Mr Bercow suggested Mr Sheerman could raise the matter with the Leader of the House Harriet Harman at business questions on Thursday.
Meanwhile David Cameron stonewalled continued questions about his knowledge of Lord Ashcroft’s tax affairs, telling journalists they were flogging “a dead horse”.
The Tory leader refused to say how long he had known that his party’s deputy chairman was a “non-dom”, insisting all that mattered was the outcome.
“People now know what his tax status is,” he said, answering press questions following a speech at Canary Wharf in east London.