As a member of the UK’s House of Lords Conrad Black is obliged to file a tax return with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs every year even though he lives in Canada.
Black has been under this obligation for more than a decade – ever since the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act was passed into law in 2010 at a time when he was in jail in Florida.
So when Black’s private wealth manager tells him that certain financial information is required because he is a member of the UK legislature he shouldn’t huff and puff and rail against “obsessive transparency”. He should grin and bear it and fill in his tax return like everyone else.
In his column in the National Post on 9 April 2022 he fumes:
“My bank’s private wealth manager replies to my occasional questions with Job-like patience and exquisite courtesy that that information is required because I am a legislator, a member of the British House of Lords. There is no reason for legislators to be subjected to closer scrutiny than anyone else and in my case, I have not been a very active peer for many years (though that may change soon). There’s nothing even slightly controversial about any financial activity of mine, but lurid official curiosity about it is annoying.”
He goes on:
“It is no one else’s rightful business what individuals or corporations do privately unless they are violating valid statutes or regulations. What we need is a fiscal equivalent of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s famous statement that, “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” Nor is there any place for it in the wallets or bank accounts of the nation, apart from what is needed to verify justifiable tax collection.”
S41 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 is a valid statute and, as a member of the UK Parliament, Black must comply with its terms.
I think there is every reason for legislators to be subjected to close scrutiny by the tax authorities.
But I say that as someone with no criminal convictions under his belt.