Julia Cumberlege

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Baroness Julia Cumberlege is a UK Conservative Party peer who was minister of health during John Major's premiership.


Ennobled in 1990, Cumberlege became a junior health minister in 1992 and for five years was responsible for health matters in the House of Lords.[1] Cumberlege is chair of the Associate Parliamentary Health Group, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Osteoporosis Group, vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pharmacy and All-Party Parliamentary Group on Maternity, secretary of the Dying Well Parliamentary Group and a member of the Associate Parliamentary Food and Health Group and All-Party Parliamentary Group on Statistics. [2]

Cumberlege served on the select committee created to review the Draft Mental Health Bill and the one with the task of examining the issues surround Stem Cell Research and Cloning.[3] Cumberlege is a trustee of Cancer Research UK, Leeds Castle in Kent and Chailey Heritage School; and is a senior associate of the King’s Fund. She is patron of the National Childbirth Trust, and honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, a vice president of the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives.[4]

Consultancy and directorial roles

In 2002, Cumberlege stood down as a non-executive director of Huntsworth Plc but continued to act as a consultant to the group on health matters.[5]

She is also executive director of MJM Healthcare Solutions, part of the Niche Healthcare Consulting group.[6]

Cumberlege also holds positions at KPMG LLP[7] and PricewaterhouseCoopers Ltd.[8] After an investigation into the interests of members of the House of Lords by the Wall Street Journal, Cumberlege removed the details about her role with PricewaterhouseCoopers.[8]

Cumberlege Connections

Cumberlege runs her own consultancy company Cumberlege Connections, established in 2001 with her business partner Amanda Simonds.[9][10]

The company has also extended to Cumberlege Eden & Partners, who offers training to pharmaceutical companies and health-care providers.[8]

When asked about her work with her two companies, Cumberlege said 'what we absolutely do not do is to lobby on behalf of anyone or any particular cause' and that her organisation's 'mission is to make the National Health Service and local government more effective and efficient not by lobbying but through training'.[8]

Spinwatch complaint against Cumberlege

The pressure group for lobbying transparency - Spinwatch - uncovered the Cumberlege case and lodged an official complaint with Baroness Usha Prashar at the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests in January 2009.[11] Cumberlege was accused of abusing her political position to advance the interests of her private company, having reportedly used a Lords email address to recruit clients to her commercial courses organised by Cumberlege Connections. It was also claimed that she granted a Lords access pass to her business partner and PA Amanda Simonds, without having declared Simonds' business interests in the official anti-sleaze register.[12] After establishing the firm in 2001 with her Simonds - formerly a city trader who would later become director of business development - Cumberlege admits that the business was run from the House of Lords until "it took off".[13] When challenged about the potential conflict of interests, Cumberlege responded:

This is not a lobbying company. It puts on training courses, for example, for young doctors, to tell them about Parliament and politicians. Many people in the NHS are naive about politics, not realising that the boards of their heath trusts are run by politicians... When I realised that the business was taking off I took special measures to separate it from the House of Lords, setting up its own website and employing staff outside. I have never claimed money from the public authorities, not even telephone charges. I have nothing to hide.[14]

Official response to the complaint

The complaint from David Miller of Spinwatch dated 30 January 2009 received a response from Brendan Keith at the Lords' Register of Interests dated 10 June 2009. This explains that Cumberlege was interviewed by the Registrar and apparently "acknowledged that the form of her entry in the Lords' Register of Interests, and some details relating to her interests, could usefully be clarified".[15] The main points of this "clarification" are as follows:

  • Cumberlege "has now made the required changes to her entry" listed on the parliamentary website
  • Cumberlege "now registers her directorship of Cumberlege Connections ("CC") as a remunerated directorship and not a non-parliamentary consultancy" as she owns and runs the company, rather than providing consultancy services to it
  • She "now also makes clear the nature of the company's business"
  • It is not required by the Code of Conduct for Cumberlege to list her clients, and she "does not wish to volunteer this information because she believes that it is commercially confidential"
  • It is permitted to Cumberlege to receive payment for advising clients on how they can persuade or influence parliament, whereas direct advocacy in exchange for payment is an offence - there is no evidence Cumberlege has been engaged in the latter
  • With regard to declaring interests during relevant debates, "no-one can be 100 percent certain that she did this on every occasion on which she intervened in the House, and in any case it is a matter of judgement what should be declared in the context of any particular debate... she cannot be certain that she always exercised her judgement correctly, as others would see it, but she has told the Sub-Committee that any failures to do so were inadvertent and she has apologised for them. She has also assured the Sub-Committee that she will in future be punctilious about declarations of interest in debate"
  • With regard to the complaint about registration of her staff's interests, Cumberlege "acknowledges that the role of Mrs Amanda Simonds as Company Secretary to CC should be registered... This has now been done... Mrs Simonds's status is now made clear. Mrs Simonds does not now have a parliamentary e-mail address"
  • Melanie Thew "is not sponsored for a parliamentary photo-pass and does not therefore appear in the Register... She can only enter the building at the invitation of Baroness Cumberlege and must be escorted by her at all times
  • Cumberlege "has assured us that she has never used the Palace of Westminster for business purposes and that CC is run from her home... At one time in the past she did facilitate access to the Palace of Westminster for her clients to attend debates and select committees, but she no longer does so and those of her clients who visit the Palace of Westminster now do so as members of the general public".[16]

Despite breaking the rules with regard to declaring her outside interests and those of her business partner, Cumberlege did not face any disciplinary action.[17]

Pride and punctiliousness

While Cumberlege earlier conceded that she had not been "punctilious" in declaring her interests during Lords debates - owing to the fact that "It is such a long list and most of it is pro bono work"[18] - there are signs that her attention to punctilios may be improving. In the Lords Hansard transcript for the 9th November 2009 (during a debate on the Health Bill), Cumberlege states:

My Lords, I am very conscious that when I spoke in the previous debate, I did not fully declare my interest. I said that I work for the NHS, but I believe that I should have said that I run my company, which is called Cumberlege Connections.[19]

Baroness Cumberlege’s "Top Ten Tips for Influencing"

Offered as part of a guide produced to help in raising awareness and influencing legislation relating to osteoporosis[20], Cumberlege outlines her advice as follows:

1.Have a vision
Make it real
Try not to compromise
2.Reconnaissance is never wasted
Map the territory
Build and use alliances
3.Gain and share knowledge
Know how the system works and…
How to work the system
4.Be canny – no surprises
Use research, respected publications, and do your own research
Your personal experiences (but sparingly)
5.Do not sell out
Use your contacts
Find examples elsewhere
6.Keep your message
7.Link with objectives of the party in power
Have a plan
Be efficient
8.Make opportunities, and never let one pass you by
Never, ever give-up
9.Use the media
Every person has their price
10.Low cunning and lovable dimness
Be creative


Contact, Resources, Notes


Email: cumberlegej@parliament.uk



  1. Associate Parliamentary Health Group "Baroness Cumberlege", accessed 09.09.10
  2. House of Commons, All-Party Parliamentary Register, 30 September 2010
  3. International Osteoporosis Foundation, "Personal Biography: Baroness Julia Cumberlege", accessed 09.09.10
  4. International Osteoporosis Foundation, "Personal Biography: Baroness Julia Cumberlege", accessed 09.09.10
  5. Huntsworth, "Annual Report 2002", accessed 25.11.08
  6. Associate Parliamentary Health Group, "Advisory Panel", accessed 25.11.08
  7. Baroness Cumberlege Parliament.UK, accessed 10 December
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 House of Lords Wall Street Journal, 10 November 2014, accessed 10 December 2014
  9. David Hencke and Rob Evans, "Tory peer accused of misusing Lords to boost her own firm", The Guardian, 29.01.09, accessed 09.09.10
  10. Cumberlege Connections, "Baroness Cumberlege", accessed 25.11.08
  11. David Hencke and Rob Evans, "Tory peer accused of misusing Lords to boost her own firm", The Guardian, 29.01.09, accessed 09.09.10
  12. Andy Tate, "Sussex peer accused of misusing her position", The Argus, accessed 09.09.10
  13. David Hencke and Rob Evans, "Tory peer accused of misusing Lords to boost her own firm", The Guardian, 29.01.09, accessed 09.09.10
  14. Andy Tate, "Sussex peer accused of misusing her position", The Argus, accessed 09.09.10
  15. Brendan Keith, "Letter dated 10 June 2009", accessed 09.09.10
  16. Brendan Keith, "Letter dated 10 June 2009", accessed 09.09.10
  17. David Hencke and Rob Evans, "House of Lords takes no action over peer who broke sleaze rules" The Guardian, 25.06.09, accessed 10.09.10
  18. Andy Tate, "Sussex peer accused of misusing her position", The Argus, accessed 09.09.10
  19. Lords Hansard, "Lords Hansard text for 9 Nov 2009", Column 639 accessed 09.09.10
  20. International Osteoporosis Foundation, "Personal Biography: Baroness Julia Cumberlege", accessed 09.09.10
  21. Health APPG Register Feb 16, www.parliament.uk, accessed 19 February 2016