Swraj Paul, Baron Paul

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Paul
BornSwraj Paul
(1931-02-18) 18 February 1931 (age 81)
Jalandhar, Punjab
Died1 Jan 2012
NationalityIndian British
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology
OccupationBusinessman
Political partyNon Affiliated
ReligionHindu
Spouse//
 
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The Right Honourable
The Lord Paul
BornSwraj Paul
(1931-02-18) 18 February 1931 (age 81)
Jalandhar, Punjab
Died1 Jan 2012
NationalityIndian British
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology
OccupationBusinessman
Political partyNon Affiliated
ReligionHindu
Spouse//

Swraj Paul, Baron Paul, PC (born 18 February 1931) is an Indian-born, British-based business magnate, philanthropist, and Labour politician. In 1996 he became a life peer, sitting in the House of Lords with the title Baron Paul, of Marylebone in the City of Westminster. In December 2008 he was appointed deputy speaker of the Lords; in October 2009 he was appointed to the Privy Council; shortly thereafter he was required to step down from the former position due to allegations of financial impropriety, in the context of the United Kingdom Parliamentary expenses scandal, and was eventually censured by the Committee for Privileges and Conduct. He is close to Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah Brown.

Contents

Early life

According to his official biography, Swraj Paul was born in Jalandhar, Punjab in 1931. His father ran a small foundry, making steel buckets and farming equipment.[1] Paul was educated at Forman Christian College in Lahore and later obtained a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US[2]

Business career

He worked for the Apeejay Group in India, which was being managed by his elder brother Stya Paul. He took over the operations of Apeejay Overseas.[citation needed]

In 1966 he relocated to the United Kingdom to get medical treatment for his young daughter, who had leukemia.[3] He spent a year getting over her death, after which he founded Natural Gas Tubes[2] Starting with one steel unit, he went on to acquire more. He founded the Caparo Group in 1968, which developed into one of the leading producers of welded steel tube and spiral welded pipe in the United Kingdom. He stepped down from the management of the Caparo Group in 1996; his youngest son Angad became CEO.[4]

Lord Paul is on the Sunday Times Rich List as the 88th richest person in Britain,[5] although he claims to take public transport in London "like everybody else".[4] Since the 1960s he has lived in Portland Place, opposite the BBC's Broadcasting House in central London.[6] He and his family own a dozen flats in the block, each one worth close to a million pounds.[5] He also has a 250-acre (1.0 km2) country estate, The Grange, in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.[7]

Public role

Lord Paul held the pro-chancellorship of Thames Valley University (1998) and its governorship (1992–97)[citation needed]. He has been the chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton since 1998[8] and of the University of Westminster,[9][10] to which his family trust has given £300,000.[11]

He was a member of the Foreign Policy Centre Advisory Council[12] and MIT's Mechanical Engineering Visiting Committee. He was the chairman of the Olympic Delivery Committee, a sub group of the London Development Agency.[9] He contested for the chairmanship of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), with an agenda to reduce the gap between the West and the East[citation needed].

He was the first person of Indian origin to hold the post of deputy speaker of the House of Lords,[13] one of twelve people in that post.[14] He was sworn of the Privy Council on 15 October 2009.[15][16]

Through the Ambika Paul Foundation, which Paul set up in memory of his daughter,[17] profits from Caparo are channelled into charitable endeavours[18] For example, Paul is an honorary patron of the Zoological Society of London and has funded major projects at the Regent's Park site, including its children's zoo.[19]

He has donated £500 000 to the Labour Party,[20] and is a strong backer of Gordon Brown,[2] being the largest donor to his leadership campaign and offering in 2007 to give "as much as [he] can afford" in the case of an early election.[21] He is also close to the former UK Prime Minister's wife, Sarah Brown,[22][23] for whom he shows paternal concern[7]

Awards and honours

Lord Paul has received various awards and honours. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan by Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India, in 1983 and the Bharat Gaurav award by the Indian Merchants' Chamber. In Britain he was given the Asian Woman Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.[3] In 2011 an Indian brand research company gave him another lifetime achievement award, "for his outstanding contributions in various fields"; the fields were not specified .[24]

Controversy

In the context of the United Kingdom Parliamentary expenses scandal, The Sunday Times reported in October 2009 that Paul had been unable satisfactorily to explain claiming expenses of £38 000, though by his own admission he had never spent a night at the place he claimed as his main home, a one-bedroom staff flat. He was forced to stand down as deputy speaker of the House of Lords while his expenses claims were investigated,[25] and said he was considering leaving the Lords.[26] He faced possible criminal charges[27] but the police decided to discontinue their investigations[28] after the House of Lords changed the rules to allow its members to "designate a property as their primary residence even if they only visited once a month".[29]

The Committee for Privileges and Conduct, a select committee with the remit of making recommendations to the House of Lords on complaints of breach of parliamentary privilege, investigated his case. On 18 October 2010 they published their report, recommending that he, along with Lady Uddin and Lord Bhatia, be suspended from parliament and repay the contested expenses, in his case £41,982. The committee concluded: "We do not feel justified in finding, on the balance of probabilities, that Lord Paul acted dishonestly or in bad faith. However, his actions were utterly unreasonable, and demonstrated gross irresponsibility and negligence. They therefore render him liable to sanction by the House."[30] Lord Paul's suspension was for four months; he also resigned from the Labour Party.[29]

Lord Paul is domiciled in the UK for tax purposes. On 9 March 2010 Lord Paul announced he would give up his non-dom tax status.[31]

As long ago as 2003, Lord Paul had blamed difficulties in the world of business on "greed, coupled with the abdication of personal responsibility"[32] He called for high standards of accountability and transparency in political and business life, acknowledging that "a little bit of scandal can put you behind"[33]

Publications

References

  1. ^ Official brief biography on the Caparo website
  2. ^ a b c "Engineering magnate puts his faith in British steeliness". Interview with the Guardian, 21 November 2008.
  3. ^ a b Asian Woman Awards website
  4. ^ a b "Swraj Paul: Humane capital". The Economic Times. 13 Dec 2007
  5. ^ a b Times article
  6. ^ Guardian interview Nov 2008
  7. ^ a b "How Sarah Brown charmed the 'Labour Ashcroft'" by Barbara Jones 7 March 2010
  8. ^ University of Wolverhampton bio page
  9. ^ a b 2006 Parliamentary list of interests
  10. ^ University of Westminster page
  11. ^ Charity Commission website
  12. ^ See letterhead here [1]
  13. ^ UK deputy Speaker is Indian-born
  14. ^ "Lord Paul: Speaking his mind" The Economic Times 18 Dec 2008
  15. ^ Privy Council website
  16. ^ PCO — Orders for 15 October 2009
  17. ^ NRI Charities page
  18. ^ Caparo page on corporate responsibility
  19. ^ London Zoo site
  20. ^ "MPs expenses: Lord Paul denies he broke rules on residence allowance" The Guardian 11 October 2009
  21. ^ "Donor's pledge fuels early election rumours" The Telegraph 15 Aug 2007
  22. ^ "Lord Swaraj Paul's son weds at London Zoo" The Times of India 11 Oct 2004
  23. ^ "Sarah Brown launches Ambika at P3" 28 June 2008
  24. ^ "Swraj Paul awarded lifetime achievement prize". The Hindu, 13 Dec 2011
  25. ^ Times Oct 2009
  26. ^ "Lord Paul considers quitting Lords over tax exile rules" Robert Winnett, Deputy Political Editor. 11 Feb 2010. The Telegraph
  27. ^ "Three more peers face charges" The Sunday Times February 7, 2010
  28. ^ New Statesman "Exclusive: Lord Paul to end his non-domiciled tax status" Posted by Mehdi Hasan - 09 March 2010 09:02
  29. ^ a b "Three peers to be suspended from Lords over expenses claims" guardian.co.uk, Monday 18 October 2010 15.25 BST
  30. ^ Privileges and Conduct Committee - Fourth Report - The Conduct of Lord Paul. 18 October 2010
  31. ^ "Labour peer to end non-dom status". BBC News. 9 March 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8557201.stm. Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  32. ^ 15 March 2003. "Greed, irresponsibility troubling business: Lord Paul" The Times of India.
  33. ^ "Lord Paul for high degree of accountability" The Times of India. 3 Jan 2004.

External links