Showing posts with label 'Lord Chadlington'. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 'Lord Chadlington'. Show all posts

Monday, 11 June 2012

Corporate Britain: Parliamentary Rules Not Fit For Purpose


The rules that MPs and Lords are legally obliged to abide by, have failed to prevent the corporate takeover of our politics, leaving our democracy in a parlous state. 

When it was revealed earlier this year that there had been a corporate healthcare takeover of our Lords, the research also highlighted a loop-hole in the rules that fail to prevent Lords and MPs from voting when they have a prejudicial interest. This weakness in the rules, allows companies to attach themselves to our Parliamentarians, providing them with vital access to our elected decision-makers. 

There are several advantages to having an MP or Lord on a company's books, such as they can vote on bills passing through parliament that may benefit their company, receive the latest information on government thinking, giving them an advantage over their peerless competitors, and potentially influence policy. As this article explores, the companies acquiring our politicians recognise the benefits, so why don't the rules?


Take the well established PR agency, Weber Shandwick. They acquired Conservative MP, Priti Patel onto their team when it was established she would be the official Conservative candidate to run for Witham in Essex. At the time, Weber Shandwick UK CEO, and Labour’s former Chief Press Officer, Colin Byrne, said: Priti is one of the brightest young political stars of her generation…Priti is a great hire for us, powerfully connected within Cameron’s Conservatives.’ Essentially, openly admitting our public servant is benefitting the private company she works for through her connections in power.


Former Olympian Lord Coe is also useful to his bosses. He is a non-executive director of data-management software company Amt-Sybex, having joined them in February 2011. The Executive team page highlights the benefits of having the former Olympian on their team stating: ‘Lord Coe’s involvement with the 2012 Olympics – one of the largest UK infrastructure projects in recent memory – provides a natural fit with the AMT-SYBEX client base in the essential industries. Prior to Mr Coe, they had William Hague as their parliamentarian link, and Steve Norris the former Conservative Mayoral candidate is their chairman.


To be ahead of the game on government policy can make the difference between success and failure for companies chasing the same clientele. Huntsworth Health, are a company in the group Huntsworth plc, which is run by Conservative Peer Lord Chadlington. Not only do they have Lord Chadlington as their CEO, but up until last year, they also had Lord Puttnam as a Director, and from 2001-03 Baroness Cumberlege was one of their non-executive directors. Francis Maude was a director of Huntsworth in 2005, following a merger with Incepta Group plc, this is clearly a company in the loop, and able to keep in touch with government thinking. Back in April 2010, Fiona Bride, the director of ‘market access’ at Huntsworth Health, chaired a meeting of pharmaceutical, and healthcare communication companies on the subject of the ‘central role of commissioning in the NHS.’ The meeting took place two months before Andrew Lansley had released the white paper (Liberating the NHS), which since developed into the much maligned Health and Social Care Act, in which commissioning is a central plank of the new legislation.


Further evidence that business sees the benefit of an MP working for them, comes in the form of Ellwood and Atfield, who are a high-end recruitment company. They have MP for Cities of London and Westminster, Mark Field, as a board Advisor. His role includes, amongst other things ‘introducing the company to opportunities.’ The company which recruits for some public affairs positions in the NHS, announced Mr Field’s appointment like this: ‘His experience, coupled with his political position, perfectly complements Ellwood & Atfield and reinforces the company’s position as the leading recruitment firm within communications and public affairs.’

Another recruitment company financially connected to a Member of the House of Lords is Odgers Berndtson. They employ Baroness Bottomley as the Chair of the Board and CEO Practice. In an interview with the financial City paper CityAM, Richard Boggis-Rolfe the chairman of head hunter company Odgers Berndtson said 'Everyone takes her call'. Another public servant recognised as exclusively benefitting their company, by their political position.


This ‘exclusive benefit’, is important, because it is something our MPs and Lords need to abide by. However, there are loopholes, which I found out when I put in a complaint to the Lord’s Standards Commissioner over Lord Chadlington’s vote on the Health and Social Care bill earlier this year.


The rules state: ‘The “exclusive benefit” principle would mean, for instance, that a Member who was paid by a pharmaceutical company would be barred from seeking to confer benefit exclusively upon that company by parliamentary means.’ This could be done in various ways including:


• tabling a motion or an amendment to legislation;

• voting in a division;

• speaking in debate;


However, given that it is nigh on impossible to prove a vote will exclusively benefit the company for whom a Lord works, it makes sense that where there is a prejudicial interest, the vote should be prevented from happening in the first place, as at local council level. Clearly the companies, who acquire a parliamentarian on their books, see their political position as exclusively benefitting them, so why do the rules not acknowledge this? Could it be that the rules have simply not caught up with the times, or is it that they been designed to allow this behaviour to take place, which is fueling the corporatisation of our political institutions?


Such benefits are plain to see as witnessed by the fact that one in four Conservative Lords had financial interests in companies involved in private healthcare, yet, were still able to vote on the Health and Social care bill, which opens up the markets to the private healthcare sector. In other words, if the rules are there to strengthen our democracy, and prevent manipulation of power, then the rules are not fit for purpose.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Complaint to Lords standards commissioner rejected


The Commissioner for Standards for the House of Lords has responded to a complaint I made about Lord Chadlington, the founder and chairman of a communications company Huntsworth plc. My complaint suggested his position in a company, which he founded, and which lobbies government in tamdem with pharmaceutical companies and which donates to the political party that is introducing a bill that could benefit his company, is in breach of the Lords rules of conduct.


More fool am I.


The context of the letter sent back to me has clearly defined how biased the rules are in favour of the unelected peers, who are allowed to vote on the Health and Social Care bill despite having a clear financial interest in its outcome.


We were told in the letter; ‘you have not supplied any evidence to suggest that any of Lord Chadlington’s votes in connection with this Bill, were designed to confer exclusive benefit on, as you suggest, Huntsworth plc.’


The “exclusive benefit” principle would mean, for instance, that a Member who was paid by a pharmaceutical company would be barred from seeking to confer benefit exclusively upon that company by parliamentary means.’ This could be done in various ways including:


• tabling a motion or an amendment to legislation;

• voting in a division;

• speaking in debate;


So why did Lord Chadlington not ‘exclusively benefit’ from his voting in the Health and Social Care bill?


‘The Bill may or may not, if passed in to law, affect the business activities of Huntsworth plc but not on an exclusive basis. I would suggest that they would have to compete for business against their competitors in the context of any new legislative framework.’


Oh really! So how come Huntsworth plc has given donations to the Conservative party since 2008, if it were not for a nudge, nudge, wink, wink? Donations to parties unfortunately, lie outside of the remit for the Commissioner of Standards, and are dealt with by the Electoral Commission instead. Come on! Why does any company give money to a political party if it isn’t to expect future return? Why do so many companies ask Lords to sit on their boards, become chairman and advisors if it isn’t to access the highest levels of government and acquire exclusive benefit? Who knows perhaps one day they can vote on a bill that will open up new markets for them. Unlikely I know.


So no, I can’t provide ‘evidence’ that Huntsworth plc will ‘exclusively benefit’ through their founder’s vote. There is no document I can lay my hand on that says the Prime Minister’s constituency party chairman Lord Chadlington will benefit from his own vote but I’d be very surprised if the company didn’t.


What I can be sure of is this: Any set of rules that allows a Lord to vote on a bill that will potentially benefit the company of which he is the founder and chairman, which has donated money to the party that is bringing in the bill is not fit for purpose.


What is the point of a complaints procedure that doesn’t hold such conflicts of interest to account? After all if you are a if you are a councillor at local government level, with financial interest, then they must declare 'prejudicial interest, which includes they 'may' benefit int he future. Voting in these circumstances would be forbidden.


We are being taken for fools; they are robbing us of our NHS and our unelected peers are voting for their own gold rush. To date 100 Lords have financial links to companies involved in private healthcare, and there will be more. It is a merry-go-round of self-interest, which looks increasingly like institutional corruption; it is wrong and it must be stopped.


Below is the Full letter:


Dear Mr Robertson


I am writing in response to your letter dated 5 March 2012, which was brought to my attention on 8 March.


I note your complaint against Lord Chadlington and your specific reference to Paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct for Members of the House of Lords.


I have conducted an initial assessment of your complaint and in the absence of evidence sufficient to establish a prima facie case that the code has been breached, I have decided that your complaint does not merit investigation.


Lord Chadlington, according to your complaint, voted against a proposal to consider the Health and Social Care Bill by means of a Special Select Committee. That is his right and the procedure, if it had been adopted, may or may not have had the impact outlined in your letter.


Turning to the issue of ‘exclusive benefit’, you have not supplied any evidence to suggest that any of Lord Chadlington’s votes in connection with this Bill, were designed to confer exclusive benefit on, as you suggest, Huntsworth plc. The Bill may or may not, if passed in to law, affect the business activities of Huntsworth plc but not on an exclusive basis. I would suggest that they would have to compete for business against their competitors in the context of any new legislative framework. You will note that Paragraph 25 of the Guide to the Code of Conduct makes it clear that the nature of ‘exclusive benefit’ should be interpreted narrowly.


I note that Lord Chadlington has registered his interest in Huntsworth plc.


Turning to the issues of political party funding and the potential use of such funding to seek exclusive benefit, which you raised. Such matters are very clearly outside of my remit. However, the Electoral Commission have a specific remit in respect of the funding of political parties and they are therefore better placed to assist you.


I trust that my reasoning/explanation is clear but if you have or obtain evidence, I stand ready to review my decision not to investigate your complaint at this juncture.


I look forward to hearing from you.


Yours sincerely


Paul Kernaghan CBE QPM

Commissioner for Standards

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Meet Lord Chadlington: He's about to vote on the Health and Social Care bill

Lord Chadlington 


Lord Chadlington is the founder and CEO of Huntsworth PLC, he also holds shares in the company, and has been a member of the House of Lords since 1996.



Healthcare Communications Association (HCA) is a non-profit organisation whose members are made up of pharmaceutical companies and communication agencies that work in the health sector. According to its website, it is run ‘by its members for its members.' It adds: 'It is now a high profile and influential player in the healthcare arena. It has sufficient influence and credibility to shape opinion and lead debate.’


One such member of the lobbying organisation is a communications company called Huntsworth PLC, who run a group of companies involved in ‘communications and lobbying.’


One arm of the group is Huntsworth Health, which operates in the U.S., Hong Kong, and Europe including here. Their website states how the company ‘provides a full continuum of consulting and communications services to the healthcare and well-being industry.’


One of Lord Chadlington's employees is Fiona Bride whose role at Huntsworth is the ‘director of market access.’ Her area of work is succinctly laid out on her personal profile page on the Huntsworth website: Fiona says she has: ‘expertise at leveraging commercial opportunities through market access at all levels of the NHS.’


In April 2010 Huntsworth Health’s director Fiona Bride chaired a meeting of the HCA, which looked at the ‘central role of commissioning in the NHS.’ Interestingly, the meeting took place two months before Andrew Lansley had released the white paper (Liberating the NHS), which since developed into the much maligned Health and Social Care bill.


Three months after the HCA meeting and in the same month as the white paper was released, Huntsworth Health acquired healthcare communications agency, ScopeMedical for £4.6m, thus expanding its health division. Lord Chadlington said of the takeover: "We are delighted to announce the acquisition of ScopeMedical," then added: "Healthcare is a major growth area and we are now very well positioned to take advantage of that growth with a fully integrated healthcare offering that supports the product lifecycle from discovery to patent expiry." It is not just Lord Chadlington that thinks his company is in a good position. Liberal Democrat peer Lord Alliance has shares in the company. The coalition is even closer than we realised.


Incidentally, Lord Chadlington is the Prime Minister’s constituency party chairman. They know each other well. Lord Chadlington paid £715,000 for a house next to Mr Cameron's last November; the home which Mr Cameron took out a £350,000 taxpayer-funded mortgage on. Lord Chadlington never moved in but sold David Cameron, a piece of the land at £137,000, which Cameron failed to declare.


The merry-go-round of politicians sitting in positions of power and working for corporations so that influence is increased is perhaps nothing new, but in the case of Huntsworth, they have truly had their fair share. Not only do they have Lord Chadlington as their CEO, but up until last year, they also had Lord Puttnam as a Director, and from 2001-03 Baroness Cumberlege was one of their non-executive directors.  Francis Maude was a director of Huntsworth in 2005, following a merger with Incepta Group plc: Four Peers, One MP,  One company. Not bad.

Further connections between the lobbying company and the Conservatives were revealed in an investigation by the Independent, which showed the company had given money to the party over several years. Lord Chadlington had until recently denied there had been any payments, however, Electoral Commission records exposed this as a lie. Huntsworth gave £15,500 to the party in August last year and has given money every year since 2008.  Following the exposure, Huntsworth were forced to admit they had given money stating the money was given by buying tickets for ‘Conservative events’, a classic way for lobbying to take place.  Furthermore, Lord Chadlington, and his wife have personally given £80,823.91 according to the electoral register, of which £44,700 went to the Central party - £21,623 went to David Cameron's office in Witney. A further £4,500 was given to Michael Howard's leadership campaign and £10,000 to Cameron's leadership campaign in 2010.

So, when Lord Chadlington (also known as Peter Gummer, the brother of John Gummer the former minister under John Major and fellow Lord) votes in the Lords, we know that anything he might say in the arguments for and against any amendments, will be clouded by the possibility of self-interest. Alongside this we need to consider to, the forty other Lords with financial interests and the prospect of the possible financial benefits the bill will present to their respective interests.


So there we have it. Four Lords working for one company who receive work from the NHS and through their membership of the Healthcare Communications Association act in tandem with pharmaceutical companies lobbying the government. 

There are 141 Lords with private healthcare financial interests. For more on whether they are breaking the Rules of conduct and to see what the Lords have said in reply to Social Investigations, please click here.

Are the Lords breaking their own rules? Lord Chadlington - Three Lords, One Company and a Democratic Failure.

The Lords are about to read through the Health and Social Care bill (H&SC), and this time they are looking at the elements within the bill that deal with ‘competition.’

The H&SC bill has been controversial from the start, in part because no mandate for the ‘reforms’ was offered to the public by either of the two parties who now form the coalition government.


Now, the bill is in the hands of the Lords, who through expert eyes will discuss and vote for various amendments placed before them, which we would hope would be conducted in an unbiased and considered way.


But…


141  of the Lords have financial interests in private healthcare companies.



Now here is a key point: In the Code of Conduct for Members of the House of Lords it states under General Principles:




'14. A Member must not act as a paid advocate in any proceeding of the House; that is to say, he or she must not seek by parliamentary means to confer exclusive benefit on an outside body or person from which he or she receives payment or reward.'

24. The “exclusive benefit” principle would mean, for instance, that a Member who was paid by a pharmaceutical company would be barred from seeking to confer benefit exclusively upon that company by parliamentary means. The way in which the benefit is conferred should be interpreted broadly. All proceedings of the House are included, for instance:

• tabling a motion or an amendment to legislation;

• voting in a division;

• speaking in debate;


These Lords are set to decide the future of our National Health Service. And the question is should they be allowed to have outside interests that may affect their decision-making process. This ‘conflict of interest’ is exactly why the compilation of Lords and MPs created such anger, spreading throughout twitter and the Internet, because people feel these connections are not right, and are not good for democracy.


Baroness Barker

Part of the campaign to highlight this list has now reached the Lords themselves who are beginning to reply to the list presented to them: One such reply came from Baroness Barker, a Liberal Democrat peer. Although she is personally not on the list, she replied to Social Investigations with this message:

‘Please supply your evidence that any of the people named below who have taken part in the Health and Social Care Bill have failed to declare their interests as they are required to do.
Please supply your evidence that the individuals named below have furthered their own interests. Please supply as much detail as you have.

Thank you,

Liz Barker’

Seventy-seven Lords and rising with direct financial links to private healthcare companies who are about to vote on a Health and Social Care bill that may prove beneficial to the companies they have interests in, is not evidence enough. Although, it must be said we are not saying they ‘have’ furthered their own interests, what we are saying is that in a democratic society, they should not be in a position where they can further their own interests by voting on this bill.


‘Speaking on the libdemvoice.org website, Baroness Barker said: The NHS is too important to be used like a political football and failure to give this Bill thorough and fair scrutiny would be condemned by the public, who have already shown an unprecedented level of interest in this legislation. I hope they will continue to follow the proceedings of the House closely and be alert to any signs of gamesmanship.’

Agreed. Let's take Baroness Barker’s advice and examine one Lord in a little more detail to see if there is any ‘gamesmanship’, and you can decide whether or not he should be voting on anything to do with the Health and Social Care bill. 

Lord Chadlington 



Lord Chadlington is the founder and CEO of Huntsworth PLC, he also holds shares in the company, and has been a member of the House of Lords since 1996.



Healthcare Communications Association (HCA) is a non-profit organisation whose members are made up of pharmaceutical companies and communication agencies that work in the health sector. According to its website, it is run ‘by its members for its members.' It adds: 'It is now a high profile and influential player in the healthcare arena. It has sufficient influence and credibility to shape opinion and lead debate.’


One such member of the lobbying organisation is a communications company called Huntsworth PLC, who run a group of companies involved in ‘communications and lobbying.’


One arm of the group is Huntsworth Health, which operates in the U.S., Hong Kong, and Europe including here. Their website states how the company ‘provides a full continuum of consulting and communications services to the healthcare and well-being industry.’


One of Lord Chadlington's employees is Fiona Bride whose role at Huntsworth is the ‘director of market access.’ Her area of work is succinctly laid out on her personal profile page on the Huntsworth website: Fiona says she has: ‘expertise at leveraging commercial opportunities through market access at all levels of the NHS.’


In April 2010 Huntsworth Health’s director Fiona Bride chaired a meeting of the HCA, which looked at the ‘central role of commissioning in the NHS.’ Interestingly, the meeting took place two months before Andrew Lansley had released the white paper (Liberating the NHS), which since developed into the much maligned Health and Social Care bill.


Three months after the HCA meeting and in the same month as the white paper was released, Huntsworth Health acquired healthcare communications agency, ScopeMedical for £4.6m, thus expanding its health division. Lord Chadlington said of the takeover: "We are delighted to announce the acquisition of ScopeMedical," then added: "Healthcare is a major growth area and we are now very well positioned to take advantage of that growth with a fully integrated healthcare offering that supports the product lifecycle from discovery to patent expiry." It is not just Lord Chadlington that thinks his company is in a good position. Liberal Democrat peer Lord Alliance has shares in the company. The coalition is even closer than we realised.


Incidentally, Lord Chadlington is the Prime Minister’s constituency party chairman. They know each other well. Lord Chadlington paid £715,000 for a house next to Mr Cameron's last November; the home which Mr Cameron took out a £350,000 taxpayer-funded mortgage on. Lord Chadlington never moved in but sold David Cameron, a piece of the land at £137,000, which Cameron failed to declare.


The merry-go-round of politicians sitting in positions of power and working for corporations so that influence is increased is perhaps nothing new, but in the case of Huntsworth, they have truly had their fair share. Not only do they have Lord Chadlington as their CEO, but up until last year, they also had Lord Puttnam as a Director, and from 2001-03 Baroness Cumberlege was one of their non-executive directors.  Three Lords one company. Not bad.

Further connections between the lobbying company and the Conservatives were revealed in an investigation by the Independent, which showed the company had given money to the party over several years. Lord Chadlington had until recently denied there had been any payments, however, Electoral Commission records exposed this as a lie. Huntsworth gave £15,500 to the party in August last year and has given money every year since 2008.  Following the exposure, Huntsworth were forced to admit they had given money stating the money was given by buying tickets for ‘Conservative events’, a classic way for lobbying to take place.  Furthermore, Lord Chadlington, and his wife have personally given more than £20,000 to the local party since 2007, including a sum of £10,000 for his leadership campaign.


So, when Lord Chadlington (also known as Peter Gummer, the brother of John Gummer the former minister under John Major and fellow Lord) votes in the Lords, we know that anything he might say in the arguments for and against any amendments, will be clouded by the possibility of self-interest. Alongside this we need to consider to, the forty other Lords with financial interests and the prospect of the possible financial benefits the bill will present to their respective interests.


So there we have it. Three Lords working for one company who receive work from the NHS and through their membership of the Healthcare Communications Association act in tandem with pharmaceutical companies lobbying the government. 

What do you think – Is it enough to simply register your interests? Should Lord Chadlington, alongside the other forty Lords with private healthcare interests be allowed to vote? Do you think Huntsworth Health have an unfair advantage because Lord Chadlington is at the helm, alongside two other Lords who worked for the company. Is he breaking the House or Lords own rules? If so then are the others, and does this mean their votes on the bill should be voided. Or do you agree with Baroness Barker, that such a tale does not provide evidence that ‘the individuals named below have furthered their own interests.’


Finally, under the Rules of Conduct:


'12. The test of relevant interest is therefore not whether a Member’s actions in Parliament will be influenced by the interest, but whether a reasonable member of the public might think that this might be the case. Relevant interests include both financial and non-financial interests.' 

Therefore - You be the judge.

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