The Corporation of London, the City's local authority, will introduce a Private Bill in parliament within the next few weeks, seeking to change the law to let foreign companies vote in its elections.
Deputy prime minister John Prescott supports the change and the measure will be given fair wind by the government and so is almost certain to become law.
The move has infuriated Conservatives, who plan to refer the matter to Lord Neill, the commissioner on standards in public life. A Tory spokesman said: 'It is extraordinary when the Neill committee
There are 50,000 businesses in the City and the 5,500 residents fear they are being sidelined. A survey found 65% opposed giving firms a vote in the election of all councillors.
But Michael Cassidy, former head of the corporation's policy committee, said: 'Foreign companies are paying tax and it is a democratic principle that people paying the tax should have a say in how it is spent'.
THE PLAIN CLOTHES LORD MAYOR
The Sunday Telegraph (Business section, p7) profiled Lord Levene, chairman of Bankers Trust International, who will be sworn in as lord mayor of London on Friday. He says he is determined to help London retain its dominant position as a financial centre.