George Foulkes

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George Foulkes (Lord Foulkes) is a British Labour Party peer and a Lothians MSP.

Controversies and conflicts of interest

Lobbying deal with law firm

In April 2009 Foulkes quit a lucrative deal with multinational law firm Eversheds after it was revealed that since May 2006 he had been paid £3000 a month to 'effect introductions' and to act as a 'strategic adviser'.

Foulkes admitted that his 36 days’ work a year for the top tier firm involved introducing its clients to chairmen and members of select committees, and giving clients tours of the Palace of Westminster. The Herald Scotland reported that:

A 2006 letter from Eversheds LLP said his role would involve arranging “meetings and special events, effecting introductions or facilitating introductions”. Foulkes was asked to keep the firm and its clients “up to date with the progress of legislation and other parliamentary issues of interest”, to act as a “sounding board and strategic adviser”. The letter asked Foulkes to look at the nuclear sector, financial regulation and government projects in the Caribbean. The peer has a long-standing interest in the Caribbean, and is a member of an all-party group at Westminster. [1]

The money was paid to his personal consultancy, Carrick Court Associates.


In 2008 it emerged that Foulkes had claimed nearly £45,000 in “overnight subsistence” from the Lords for staying in a London home he inherited from his late mother. According to the Herald Scotland, the claims 'coincided with him selling another house for a £400,000 profit and buying a third for £600,000 without a mortgage'. [1]


The following is George Foulkes's biography from his own website:

The Rt. Hon Lord Foulkes of Cumnock P.C., B.Sc., J.P.
George Foulkes was born in Oswestry on 21st January 1942, moved to Keith in Banffshire two years later and attended the primary department of Keith Grammar School. In l953, he moved to London with his mother, Netta, who was then Superintendent Health Visitor in Walthamstow. George was awarded a free place at the Haberdasher’s Ashe’s School which was then in Hampstead.
In l960, he returned to Scotland to attend Edinburgh University with plans for an Honour’s Degree in Physics. However, George switched to Psychology and graduated Bachelor of Science in l964.
From l963–l964, he was Senior President of Edinburgh University Students’ Representative Council and moved on to become full time President of the Scottish Union of Students, which was then separate from the NUS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Even after graduating, he kept closely involved in the governance of Edinburgh University, first as Rector’s Assessor to the Rector Kenneth Allsop, and then from 1975-79 as Assessor from the Lothian Regional Council, on the University Court.
After his presidency of SUS he was manager of the Fund for International Student Co-operation (FISC) and worked as Scottish Organiser of the European Movement and Director of the European League for Economic Co-operation (ELEC).
His main career has been as Director of two key Scottish Voluntary bodies: Enterprise Youth from l969-73 and Age Concern Scotland from 1973-79.
In local government, George was an unsuccessful candidate for the George Square and Sighthill Wards of Edinburgh Corporation in l967 and l969 respectively but then stood successfully in Sighthill in May 1970.
He was Vice-Chairman of Education and Bailie (Magistrate) on Edinburgh City Council, on which he served from l970 to l975. George was sworn in as a JP in 1975.
In 1974, Lord Foulkes was elected to Lothian Regional Council where he was Chair of the Education Committee of the Council, of COSLA (The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities), and of the Scottish Teachers Salaries and Conditions of Service Committee.
Ironically, he was also on the boards of Fettes College, Heriot’s and the Merchant Company and, more appropriately, Napier, Telford and Sighthill Colleges.
He was a member of the General Teaching Council (GTC) and Chair of the Scottish Adult Literacy Agency.
He stood, unsuccessfully, for Parliament in West Edinburgh in June l970 and in Edinburgh Pentlands in October l974 but was elected in South Ayrshire on 3rd May l979, when he defeated sitting MP Jim Sillars who had left Labour to form the Scottish Labour Party.
On his election to Parliament, he became Secretary, and later Chair, of the All-Party Group for Pensioners, which he kept until Labour took power in l997.
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 l983-92, then for Defence from l992-93 and as Joan Lestor’s deputy at Overseas Development from l994-97.
When Labour won the election in l997, he was appointed Under Secretary at the Department of International Development, where he was Clare Short’s deputy until February 2001, when he was appointed Minister of State for Scotland until May 2002.
A longstanding supporter of European co-operation, Lord Foulkes was appointed to the Board of Britain in Europe in June 2002, and is now Chair of the Labour Movement for Europe in Scotland.
George has also been an active member of the Co-operative Party and was a Director of St Cuthbert’s Co-op (now Scotmid) from l973 – 79 and of the Co-operative Press. He is a member of the GMB Union and the Fabian Society.
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 (WEU).
An established devolutionist, George was Chair of the Labour Campaign for a Scottish Parliament and of the John Wheatley Centre, the Scottish left-wing think tank.
On recommendation of the Prime Minister, Lord Foulkes was appointed by the Queen as a Privy Councillor in 2002. On 13th May 2005 it was announced that he would be created a life peer, and in June 2005 the peerage was gazetted as Baron Foulkes of Cumnock.
Cumnock is located in East Ayrshire and is the political heart of Lord Foulkes’ old constituency. It is also the burial place of James Keir Hardie, founder of the Labour Party. He had represented the region, for 26 years prior to his retirement on 5th May 2005.
As a Lord, George currently represents the Labour Party on the Executive of the Socialist International, as a member of the Executive Committee of the Interparliamentary Union and as Member of the Board of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. He is also a member of the House of Lords Home Affairs Committee.

On 7th July 2006, it was announced that Lord Foulkes will lead the Lothian List in 2007 in the Scottish Parliament elections and will act as vice-chairman of Labour's Holyrood election campaign. On 7th July 2006, it was announced that Lord Foulkes will lead the Lothian List in 2007 in the Scottish Parliament elections and will act as vice-chairman of Labour's Holyrood election campaign. On 3rd May 2007 he was elected to Holyrood.[2]


All Party Parliamentary Groups

Foulkes sits on the following All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs):[3]



Twitter: @GeorgeFoulkes


  1. 1.0 1.1 Lord Foulkes quits lucrative deal after lobbying row, The Herald Scotland, 6 September 2009
  2. The Rt. Hon Lord George Foulkes of Cumnock P.C., B.Sc., J.P., Lord Foulkes's website, accessed 2 March 2010. (Link no longer works)
  3. APPG Register, Parliament UK website, accessed 4 August 2010
  4. All-Party Parliamentary Group for Funerals and Bereavement, Register of All-Party Groups (As at 30 July 2010), accessed 4 August 2010