Henry Plumb, Baron Plumb

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Plumb
DL
15th President of the European Parliament
In office
January 1987 – July 1989
Preceded by Pierre Pflimlin
Succeeded by Enrique Barón Crespo
Member of the European Parliament
for Cotswolds
In office
7 June 1979 – 10 June 1999
Preceded by Constituency created
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Personal details
Born (1925-03-27) 27 March 1925 (age 92)
Political party Conservatives, European Democrats

Charles Henry Plumb, Baron Plumb, DL, known as Henry, (born 27 March 1925) is a British farmer who went into politics as a leader of the National Farmers Union. He later became active in the Conservative Party and was elected as a Member of the European Parliament. He served as an MEP from 1979 to 1999, serving as President of the European Parliament from 1987 to 1989, the first and only Briton to hold the post.

Background[edit]

Plumb's family were from Cheshire and had been in farming for several generations. His father farmed at Coleshill in Warwickshire, on which his son joined him in 1940. He took over running the farm in 1952 when his father died. The farm ran to 300 acres (1.2 km2) and consisted primarily of a dairy herd (200 pedigree Ayrshire cattle) with 70 breeding sows and 100 acres (0.40 km2) of grain.[1]

National Farmers Union[edit]

After rising through the county branch, in 1965 Plumb was elected Vice-President of the National Farmers Union. Although only 40 years old he was considered for the Presidency,[2] but had to settle for promotion to Deputy President in 1966.[3] In the late 1960s Plumb was a member of the Northumberland Committee inquiring into the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, being the only working farmer on the committee. Towards the end of the committee's deliberations, a report from political correspondent J.W. Murray in Farmer and Stockbreeder claimed that Plumb had single-handedly persuaded the committee to recommend prohibiting the import of carcass meat from countries where foot-and-mouth was endemic.[4]

President of the NFU[edit]

In January 1970 the incumbent President of the NFU Gwilym Williams failed to get the 80% support necessary to be re-elected, and Plumb was elected President of the NFU in his place.[5] Plumb's term of office included British accession to the European Economic Community and its Common Agricultural Policy and Plumb negotiated for greater support for British agriculture; he stressed that Britain no longer had the economic power to bring cheap food prices.[6] However Plumb was a strong supporter of British membership of the European Economic Community; he was considered as a possible director for the pro-market campaign in the 1975 referendum campaign[7] and was described as one of its most indefatigable spokesmen.[8] Plumb was awarded a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in 1973.[9][10][11]

European Parliament[edit]

Having joined the Conservative Party, he was elected Member of the European Parliament for the Cotswolds seat in 1979 and remained in the European Parliament until 1999, being President of the European Parliament 1987-1989.

He was made a Life peer as Baron Plumb, of Coleshill in the County of Warwickshire on 6 April 1987.[12] He was also Chancellor of Coventry University between 1995 and 2007 and a founder of leading EU lobbying law firm Alber & Geiger.

Controversy[edit]

In June 2012 the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The Independent newspaper revealed how senior members of the House of Lords failed to disclose their business interests in a public inquiry. On Lord Plumb's entry in the register of interests he lists his only remunerated employment/profession as 'farming' (See: Register of Lords' Interests) despite his involvement with the Brussels-based lobbying firm Alber and Geiger since 2007.[13][14] According to The Independent, Lord Plumb insisted "he did not need to register his involvement because he had never been in employment, paid or unpaid by the firm".[15]

Tobacco industry lobbyist[edit]

The publication of many millions of tobacco industry documents [1] revealed that Lord Plumb was the so-called 'Chairman' of a Philip Morris scam organisation called Libertad which professed to promote 'international human rights and Commercial Free Speech', while actually engaging in lobbying to retain cigarette advertising and block attempts to put health warnings on cigarette packets. [16]

Libertad was one of a half-dozen fake organisations set up and run by a professional dissembler, Andrew Whist, [2] the head of Philip Morris International's Corporate Affairs division. Also used by PM for lobbying apart from Libertad were the New York Society for International Affairs (NYS or NYSIA), the American-European Community Association (AECA), the US-Spain Council, the Spain-US Chamber of Commerce Inc. and the Hungarian-American Chamber of Commerce (NY & NJ). These non-existent entities were finally exposed when Whist was forced, in evidence given before the court, to admit that they existed as nothing more than a chair in his New York apartment. [3] They were simply used to camouflage underhand activities; to defend the cigarette industry's right to advertise and promote its products without interference; to provide cover for politicians on junkets; and as ways of fooling the media into issuing reports that were entirely spurious.

Wall Street Journal staff reporters Tatiana Boncompagni and Jill Abramson exposed the scams of Andrew Whist at Philip Morris on 4 Aug 1997. [4] The article says:

Andrew Whist is president of the society. In an interview, he said he helped launch the group years ago with the late David Morse, a labor lawyer who once led the International Labor Organization. (the partner of another lobbyist, Paul Dietrich's who ran the Institute for International Health & Development for Philip Morris) The 63-year-old Mr. Whist says the organization aims to promote international trade and says it has underwritten 18 trips for governors and various state officeholders.

Other basics about the organization are also difficult to pin down. Where is the New York Society for International Affairs headquartered? At first, Mr. Whist supplies an address on Madison Avenue. The doorman at the address knows nothing of such an organization: it's a residential building. During a second interview, Mr. Whist concedes that the New York Society's office is "a chair in my apartment."

Mr. Whist also has a chair at Philip Morris, where he has worked since 1966. He now serves as senior vice president for external affairs, in which capacity, the company says, he advises it on international trade issues. Mr. Callahan also works at Philip Morris, right under Mr. Whist in the external affairs department. The New York Society intern who went to Costa Rica? She, too, works at Philip Morris. And that shadowy figure on the Costa Rica trip was Ed Beauchemin, a high-profile Philip Morris lobbyist in Austin, Texas.[5]

Brian Bates, a Minnesota lawyer, immediately filed a complaint against the "violation of Chapter 10A.071 by Philip Morris, Inc and/or Governor Arne Carlson" following the Wall Street Journal article about Whist's use of the New York Society (NYSIA) and the American-European Community Association (AECA) to give politicians junkets. He charged that …

The Australian trip was estimated to cost $7,000.00. The trip was financed by Philip Morris through two (they only knew of two at this time) non-profit organisations which appear to be nothing more than conduits through which Phillip Morris channels money to public officials .
The President of both non-profit conduit organisations is Andrew Whist, a senior vice president at Philip Moris. Mr Whist has admitted that NYSIA's office is "a chair in my apartment." [6]

Note: Whist's appears to have been able to persuade the Council of State Governors (CSG) and the National Governors' Association (NGA) to provide a fake front for these operations.

Personal life[edit]

In 1947 he married Marjorie Dorothy Dunn; the couple have one son (John) and two daughters (Elizabeth and Christine).

Bibliography[edit]

  • The Plumb Line: A Journey Through Agriculture and Politics by Henry Plumb. Greycoat Press. 2001.  (Autobiography)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Leonard Amey, "A fighter to lead the farmers", The Times, 30 January 1970, p. 10.
  2. ^ "Probables And Possibles For N.F.U. Presidency", The Times, 29 December 1965, p. 4.
  3. ^ "N.F.U. Choose New President", The Times, 9 April 1966, p. 6.
  4. ^ "MP's motion on alleged farm report leak", The Times, 8 February 1969, p. 3.
  5. ^ Leonard Amey, "President of NFU is ousted", The Times, 30 January 1970, p. 2.
  6. ^ Leonard Amey, "Britain can no longer attract cheap food, NFU chief says", The Times, 23 January 1973, p. 11.
  7. ^ David Butler and Uwe Kitzinger, "The 1975 Referendum", Macmillan, 1975, p. 73.
  8. ^ Butler & Kitzinger p. 171.
  9. ^ "Birthday Honours", The Times, 2 June 1973, p. 4.
  10. ^ "(Supplement) no. 45984". The London Gazette. 2 June 1973. p. 6473. 
  11. ^ "no. 46127". The London Gazette. 13 November 1973. p. 13485. 
  12. ^ "no. 50886". The London Gazette. 9 April 1087. p. 4745. 
  13. ^ "Chamber of secrets: House of Lords exposed". Website. Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Retrieved 24 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "Lord Charles Henry Plumb". Website. Alber & Geiger. Archived from the original on 30 September 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2012. 
  15. ^ "Undeclared interests: Peers fail to register business roles". Website. Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Retrieved 24 June 2012. [permanent dead link]
  16. ^ https://www.industrydocumentslibrary.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/kkbh0093 One of Libertad operations