Architect Foster gives up seat in Britain's House of Lords

8th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Leading architect Norman Foster has quit the House of Lords rather than pay full resident taxes in Britain, a parliamentary spokeswoman said Thursday.

Foster is among five peers who gave up their unelected seats ahead of a deadline of midnight Wednesday to comply with new legislation stating that all members of parliament must be domiciled in Britain for tax purposes.

Another big name to turn his back on the Lords is Indian metals mogul Raj Bagri, a former chairman of the London Metal Exchange.

The law was changed following a major political row over the tax status of Lord Michael Ashcroft, the deputy chairman of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party and a major party donor.

Ashcroft renounced his non-domiciled status -- after years of refusing to say whether he paid tax on his overseas earnings here -- following the introduction of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act.

"When the act was passed, it allowed for members of the House of Lords to have three months during which they could resign as members of the House of Lords," a spokeswoman for the unelected upper parliamentary chamber said.

Foster, who won the prestigious Pritzer Prize for architecture in 1999 and has been responsible for iconic buildings such as the London's "Gherkin" tower and Hong Kong airport, was appointed to the House of Lords in 1999.

He maintains his title but will no longer be able to attend sessions or vote on legislation.

"Lord Foster left the United Kingdom several years ago with his family to live in Switzerland. This is common knowledge. He has accordingly declared this fact," his spokesman said.

Other peers to quit are Conservative peers Lord Alistair McAlpine and Lord Irvine Laidlaw and cross-bencher Baroness Lydia Dunn, who was originally from Hong Kong and a former non-executive deputy chairman of HSBC Holdings.

© 2010 AFP

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