A complaint made to the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards on a Conservative Lord who failed to declare his interests has been upheld.
In March this year, Social Investigations posted how Lord Hamilton appeared to have broken the rules by not mentioning his interests as a director of managing consultancy company, MSB Ltd. The company came to the attention of this blog, when it was found to be earning money from a private health care company serving the NHS.
The complaint filed by a member of the public Robert Wylie, focused on a statement made by the Lord on 13th February 2012.
'My Lords, surely one of the problems of the National Health Service is the wall of money that was thrown at a totally unreformed NHS by the last Government? Do we not need management consultants now to show us the way forward on the savings that need to be wrung out of the NHS so that it can survive into the future?'
Although Lord Hamilton had registered his interests in MSB Ltd, any Peer must announce their interest before speaking in a session.
Lord Hamilton who is one of 141 Peers exposed as having financial links to companies involved in private healthcare, apologised for the ‘oversight’: ‘Mr Wyllie is correct in alleging that I contributed to the Private Notice Question on the NHS and management consultants without admitting that I was a director of MSB. I apologise for this oversight.’
An apology, is apparently enough when you are a Lord.
Paul Kernaghan the Standards Commissioner, replied to the Peer saying: ‘I am satisfied that the complaint whilst justified, highlights an oversight which you readily acknowledged. Thus, I feel it is appropriate that I propose the following course of action. I suggest that you write a letter addressed to Baroness Manningham-Buller (Chairman, Sub- Committee on Lords' Conduct) but forwarded via my office. That letter should, in essence, repeat the core facts contained in your letter of 21 February 2012.’ He continued: ‘Namely, that you accept the complaint was justified, you should have made a declaration and you apologise for not declaring your directorship. I am of the view that such a letter setting the record straight, is all that is required in this instance.’
So an apology is enough. Lord Hamilton blatantly promotes an element of NHS reform in which he is a director of a company involved in the same line of work. Even though he was forced to make an apology, he initially told the Standards Commissioner in a letter on the 21st February: ‘Years ago MSB pitched for work with the NHS but I do not think that they have fulfilled a contract during the ten or so years that I have been a director.’
Wrong. In a follow up letter to the Commissioner three days later. He announced: ‘I have checked with MSB as the last time they indirectly worked for the NHS was as a sub- contractor to CARE-UK doing patient research. The contract ended in the first quarter of 2009 after 2 years.’
So as a director of MSB Ltd, he didn’t know they had a contract with a private healthcare company Care UK, whose director incidentally funded health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s office. He also forgot to mention his registered interests, but what he didn’t forget to do, was vote loyally on every division in the Health and Social Care bill, as it passed into Act.
An apology is not enough. The Lords is an open house for companies disguised as Lords, who have passed our health service into the hands of the corporations to which they are paid to serve.
Sign the petition to Change the House of Lords rules to stop Lords voting on bills where they have financial conflicts of interest.
Write to your MP and demand a change in the rules.
Or better still when the opportunity arises; take to the streets.
To view the full complaint click here.
To view the full complaint click here.