George Foulkes, Baron Foulkes of Cumnock

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Foulkes of Cumnock
PC
Lord Foulkes of Cumnock.jpg
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Lothians
In office
3 May 2007 – 5 May 2011
Member of the UK Parliament
for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley
South Ayrshire (1979–1983)
In office
3 May 1979 – 5 May 2005
Preceded by Jim Sillars
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Personal details
Born (1942-01-21) 21 January 1942 (age 72)
Oswestry, Shropshire
Nationality British
Political party Labour Co-operative
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Keen supporter of Heart of Midlothian Football Club

George Foulkes, Baron Foulkes of Cumnock, PC (born 21 January 1942, Oswestry, Shropshire) is a British Labour Party life peer. He has been a member of the House of Commons, the Scottish Parliament and as a life peer is now a member of the House of Lords. Until May 2011 he was a member of both the Lords and the Scottish Parliament but he did not seek reelection to the Scottish Parliament in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election.[1] He is often described by the media as an "ultra loyalist" to the Labour Party.[2] In 1993, he was forced to resign as Shadow Defence Minister after being convicted of being drunk and disorderly during an incident in which he struck a police officer.[3]

Foulkes was a strong supporter of ID cards, regularly speaking in favour of former British Government proposals.[4] He is also a supporter of Scottish devolution and was involved in the drafting of "A Claim of Right for Scotland" in 1988.

Early life[edit]

George Foulkes spent his early childhood in Keith, Banffshire. He later attended the independent, fee-paying Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School in Hertfordshire. His political career began in 1963, when he became Senior President of the Students' Representative Council at the University of Edinburgh. He later became the full-time President of the Scottish Union of Students (which was later incorporated into the UK National Union of Students). He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Foulkes is a keen supporter and ex-Chairman of Heart of Midlothian in Edinburgh.

House of Commons[edit]

Foulkes was first elected in the 1979 general election, as Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for South Ayrshire. After the constituency's abolition in boundary changes, he was elected in the 1983 general election for the new constituency of Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley.

In 1981, a he drafted a political bill called the "Control of Space Invaders (and other Electronic Games) Bill" in an attempt to ban the game for its "addictive properties" and for causing "deviancy". The bill was debated and only narrowly defeated in parliament by 114 votes to 94 votes.[6][7]

As an MP, Foulkes introduced the first-ever proposals for a smoking ban in public places in 1982 and legislation against age discrimination in 1985, both through private member's bills.

After serving on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and the Council of Europe, he was appointed to the Opposition Front Bench as an opposition spokesperson on Foreign Affairs from 1983–92, then for Defence from 1992-93. He then served as Joan Lestor's deputy at International Development from 1994-1997.[8][dead link]

When Labour won the election in 1997 he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for International Development, where he was Clare Short's deputy. From February 2001 he was Minister of State for Scotland until the May 2002 reshuffle. From June 2003 to May 2005 he was a UK delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Assembly of the Western European Union. Foulkes was made a member of the Privy Council in 2002, and stepped down from office at the 2005 general election.

He is a strong supporter of the Iraq war and has described Tony Blair's conduct of the war as clearly intentioned, carried through brilliantly and resulting in much improvement for the people of the country. Commenting on Sir Christopher Meyer's testimony to the Iraq Inquiry in 2009, he described the inquiry as "a procession of primadonnas and the usual suspects grandstanding for the TV".[9]

House of Lords[edit]

On 13 May 2005, it was announced that Foulkes was to be created a life peer. In June 2005 the peerage was gazetted as Baron Foulkes of Cumnock, of Cumnock in East Ayrshire.[10]

He serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the Interparliamentary Union and Member of the Board of Governors of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. He was a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee in the Cabinet Office from 2007 to May 2010 and has been a Member of the Joint Committee on National Security Strategy since October 2010.

Lord Foulkes has also been a member of the Lords E.U. Select Committee and member of the Lords E.U. Sub Committee on Social Policy and Consumer Protection since March 2011.

Lord Foulkes is very active on Caribbean matters. He serves as President of the Caribbean Britain Business Council, Chair of the Dominican Republic All-Party Parliamentary Group, Chair of the Belize All-Party Parliamentary Group, Vice Chair of the Trinidad and Tobago All-Party Parliamentary Group and Vice Chair of the British - Central America All-Party Parliamentary Group. In April 2011 Lord Foulkes became President of the Caribbean Council.

Scottish Parliament[edit]

Foulkes returned to electoral politics in 2007 when he led the Scottish Labour Party's Lothian List in the 2007 Scottish Parliament election, and was vice-chairman of Labour's Holyrood election campaign. Lord Foulkes was elected as a Member of the Scottish Parliament on 3 May 2007.

Since his election to the Scottish Parliament Foulkes has been responsible for Labour's opposition to the minority SNP Government. For that he has been a regular target of criticism by SNP bloggers, whom he branded "Cybernats". He regularly tables Parliamentary Questions scrutinising the Scottish Government’s conduct, and supposedly exposed several "irregularities", including the entertaining of wealthy SNP backers at Bute House at the expense of the taxpayer,[11] and the preferential treatment given to Stagecoach, whose co-founder Brian Souter gave £500,000 to the SNP, in the Forth hovercraft project.[12] None of these supposed "irregularities" has led to parliamentary censure for the SNP, and may be viewed as within the usual range of political attacks on an opponent.

Foulkes has also been part of a campaign for presumed consent on organ donation.[13][14]

He failed to be elected Rector of the University of Edinburgh on 12 February 2009, securing 31% of the vote to the 69% taken by Iain Macwhirter.[15]

Controversies[edit]

Foulkes was chairman of Hearts football club from April 2004 until his resignation on 31 October 2005. Foulkes resigned in protest at the majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov deciding to dismiss the Hearts chief executive Phil Anderton.[16]

Foulkes attracted controversy after referring to the Scottish National Party (SNP) of acting in a "xenophobic way".[citation needed] The former Scottish Labour Party leader Henry McLeish called on Foulkes to apologise for the SNP 'racism' claim.[17]

During the 2009 expenses controversy, Foulkes attacked media presenters, saying they were all paid "to come on TV and sneer at democracy and undermine democracy. The vast majority of MPs are being undermined by you"[18] in an exchange with BBC presenter Carrie Gracie.

In 2008, Foulkes had been criticised for his expenses claims, which included around £45,000 over a period of two years for overnight subsistence to stay in a flat he had inherited. Between April 2007 and March 2008, Foulkes claimed £54,527 in expenses from the House of Lords.[2][19] In January 2009 Foulkes was shown to have one of the lowest expenses claims in the Scottish Parliament.[20]

In 1993, he resigned as Shadow Defence Minister after being convicted of being drunk and disorderly during in incident in which he struck a Police officer.[3]

He has also made Freedom of Information requests about the expenses of General Sir Richard Dannatt, lately head of the British Army.[21]

On 15 September 2010, Foulkes, along with 54 other public figures, signed an open letter published in The Guardian, stating their opposition to Pope Benedict XVI's state visit to the UK.[22]

On 24 August 2011 The Scotsman[23] reported that George Foulkes had announced that he would table an amendment to the Scotland Bill with the intention to make it impossible for the Scottish Government to sustain free university education for students in Scotland.

On 2 February 2012, George Foulkes tabled a motion at the House of Lords calling for the independence referendum to contain no extra question on increased devolution, and proposing a separate referendum be held on the subject in the event independence is rejected and Scotland stays in the UK.[24]

References[edit]

References:

  1. ^ "Foulkes to quit Holyrood for Lords". Herald. Herald & Times Group. 18 August 2010. Retrieved 18 August 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Peterkin, Tom (28 December 2008). "Lord Foulkes caught in £54,000 expenses row". Scotland on Sunday (Edinburgh: Johnston Press). Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Mp, Labour (18 October 2002). "George Foulkes". BBC News. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  4. ^ Treneman, Ann (16 November 2005). "To ID cards and back – via Caracas". Times Online (London: Times Newspapers). Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  5. ^ "Rt Hon George Foulkes MSP". 
  6. ^ "30 Great Gaming World Records". Computer and Video Games. 14 February 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  7. ^ http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1981/may/20/control-of-space-invaders-and-other
  8. ^ Duff, Oliver (22 January 2007). "Baron Zebedee should have a spring in his step". The Independent (London: Independent News and Media). Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  9. ^ "Newsnight" (26 November 2009)
  10. ^ London Gazette no. 57681. p. 8113
  11. ^ Evans, Elisabeth (19 November 2007). "Salmond under scrutiny for costly dinners". The Journal. The Edinburgh Journal. Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  12. ^ "Row After Forth Hovercraft Plan Shelved". Daily Record. Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail. 20 February 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  13. ^ "Call for organ donation opt-out". BBC News. 2 January 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  14. ^ Swanson, Ian (3 November 2007). "SNP 'can lead UK in opt-out organ donation'". Edinburgh Evening News (Johnston Press). Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  15. ^ "Iain Macwhirter chosen as Edinburgh’s 50th Rector | News | News and events". Ed.ac.uk. 13 February 2009. Retrieved 6 June 2010. 
  16. ^ "Foulkes brands Romanov a dictator". BBC News. 1 November 2005. Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  17. ^ "Foulkes snubs McLeish's call to apologise for SNP 'racism' claim". The Scotsman (Edinburgh: Johnston Press). 8 September 2007. Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  18. ^ "Peer turns fire on BBC presenter". BBC News. 12 May 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  19. ^ Hutcheon, Paul (26 April 2008). "Foulkes claimed £45,000 to stay in own London flat". Sunday Herald. Newsquest (Sunday Herald). Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  20. ^ Maddox, David. "Toilet paper adds to MSPs' £10m expenses". Thescotsman.scotsman.com. Retrieved 6 June 2010. 
  21. ^ Kirkup, James (20 August 2009). "Lord Foulkes requested information about General Sir Richard Dannatt's spending". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  22. ^ "Letters: Harsh judgments on the pope and religion". The Guardian (London). 15 September 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  23. ^ David Maddox (24 August 2011). "Peer's bid to outlaw fees for English students only". The Scotsman (Edinburgh). Archived from the original on 24 August 2011. Retrieved 27 August 2011 – via Highbeam. 
  24. ^ "Scottish independence referendum: two-ballot referendum proposed by Labour peer". The Scotsman (Edinburgh). 2 February 2012. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jim Sillars
Member of Parliament for South Ayrshire
19791983
Succeeded by
(constituency abolished)
Preceded by
(new constituency)
Member of Parliament for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley
19832005