Sep. 2018: Jack’s rapid and undeserved rapid promotion
Only 14 months following his election to the Dumfries and Galloway constituency, Jack was appointed to the role of Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Baroness Evans, the leader of the House of Lords.
As PPS he was an important connector working with the Whips’ offices in both Houses, particularly in regard to progressing key Brexit legislation.
His role was to advise the Leader of the Lords and the Front Bench on what was happening in the Commons in terms of Parliamentary business including providing up-to-date assessments of mood of the Parliamentary party and reporting on what was in the pipeline its fit with the Government’s legislative agenda. He also relayed what the Lords were thinking back to the Government.
Jack said: My additional responsibilities gave me even greater opportunity to raise awareness of constituency issues at UK ministerial level. My first priority always remained with the people of Dumfries and Galloway and I was honoured to have played a key role at such a crucial time for our country.”
Comment: Confirmation Jack was a prime mover, in the introduction and development of hardline Tory Brexit policies that brought about the demise of Theresa May. His actions directly contradict his statement that his priority was always the people of Dumfries and Galloway who voted to remain within the European Union. His loyalty is to the right-wing of the Tory Party and its damaging dogma which is bringing so much harm to Scotland.
Mundell, who was sacked by Boris Johnson, described Jack as a “Brexiteer” and followed up with the comment that he had been forced out so that Johnson could mould a Cabinet in his own shape, promoting those who would back a no-deal Brexit.
Jack has always been against Scottish devolution and is also a hardline opponent of Scottish independence and made it clear following his appointment that he would use his position to “defend the Union against those who would seek to tear it apart”.
The Jack Family of Dumfries
Alister Jack was born in Dumfries in 1963. His parents were David William (1936-1982) Jack and Jean Douglas Pringle (1941- ****).
He was educated at Dalbeattie Primary School, Crawfordton House, and Glenalmond College, (near Perth).
His father, a farmer died aged only 46y in 1982 when Jack was just completing his education at Glenalmond.
His mother Jean (one of the Hawick resident, Douglas and Pringle families) married John Glen Alexander Tulloch (1940-****) in 1985.
The Tulloch family is well connected at the highest levels of society and businessman and landowner John owns a number of estates and businesses in Scotland and wider afield.
As Jean Douglas Tulloch she was appointed to and held the position of Lord-Lieutenant for Dumfries from (2006-2016).
She took up ownership of Courance Farm, near Lockerbie, on the death of her first husband and gifted it to her son when she retired.
Alister is married to Ann Hodgson (1965-****), they live northeast of Dumfries and have three children;
Baroness Emily Ann Sweerts de Landis (nee Jack),(1981): Who married into a European family of note and wealth. Gifted academically she founded and runs her own successful business in London,
Alice (1991): Is the Operations manager of the Jack family business.
Will (1996): On completion of postgraduate studies at Oxford Brookes University he took up employment, in 2018 as a Graduate Surveyor with, DohertyBaines, a Commercial Real Estate Company based in London.
Alister is a former Deputy Lieutenant for Dumfries, (one rung down the ladder from his mum) and deputy-chairman of the River Annan and District Salmon Fishery Board and the River Annan Trust.
He is also a member of the Queen’s Bodyguard for Scotland, the Royal Company of Archers.
2013: Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding 2014-2020 – Financial allocations for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales remains the same for the next funding period.
This means that the historic intra-UK split of direct payments remains in place and the additional convergence funding received by the UK because of Scotland’s poor per hectare payment rate will be split between the UK countries.
Scotland’s allocation of CAP funds, by hectare
Scotland now has the lowest amount of direct farm funding, per hectare of farmland, in the EU.
Average per hectare direct payments across EU countries in 2020
The Convergence Mechanism
During the negotiation of the 2014-2020 CAP programme at EU level, a convergence mechanism was agreed. This aimed to bring the amount of Pillar 1 funding all Member States received closer to the EU average, based on a per-hectare payment measure. The average EU payment rate was €268 per ha1. So, Member States with low payment rates per hectare received additional money.
As the graph below shows, Scotland had a very low per hectare payment rate at the time.
Scotland’s allocation of CAP funds in 2013
Late spring of 2019: The allocation of CAP funding in the UK has remained controversial since 2013 and responding to pressure from the Scottish government the UK Government initiated an independent review (the Bew review) into the factors that should be considered to make sure that funding for domestic farm support is fairly allocated. More information here:
Late Sep 2019: Boris Johnson buys the Aberdeen and North East Scotland farming community votes and stupid is as stupid as they fall for the empty promise
On a short stopover visit to Aberdeen Johnson announced that £160 million of European convergence funding wrongly withheld from Scottish farmers almost three years ago will be released to the Scottish government shortly. Johnson, who was in Aberdeenshire to meet local farmers, said:
“For too long, Scottish farmers have been given a poor deal by the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, which is why we are taking this opportunity to change things for the better. I also made a pledge to resolve the historic funding gap for Scottish farmers and delivering on this promise has been a priority since I became Prime Minister. Today’s announcement is the first step in making sure future funding is fairly allocated across the UK, taking into account the unique farming environments in Scotland”.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack hailed the belated release of the £160 million funding for farmers, saying: “This is a brilliant boost. I’m absolutely delighted by this announcement and know our hard-working farmers across Scotland will welcome it warmly. Leaving the EU will give us a historic opportunity to tailor support better to Scotland’s unique farming environment. This is something I’ve lobbied for as a backbench MP and will continue to pursue as Scotland Secretary.”
NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick described the money as being the “largest funding uplift for the sector in recent memory”. And stated: “Securing a fair agricultural funding settlement that recognizes the flaws in the historic approach has been a priority for NFU Scotland. We thank Lord Bew for undertaking this review and his conclusions on how agricultural funding should be allocated.”
Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, said:
“Three years too late, the cash is coming to Scotland”. And SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said: “It was the Tory government who stole tens of millions of European cash from the pockets of Scottish farmers. Boris Johnson is a thief returning to the scene of the crime. In doing so, he is reminding voters across the North East how disastrous his Brexit plans will be with experts predicting Aberdeen will be the worst-hit city in the whole of the UK.”
A Labour Party spokesperson commented:
“Boris Johnson’s disastrous plan for a no-deal Brexit will be calamitous for Scottish farming. It will create a crisis in seasonal farm work and NFU Scotland has previously warned his plans could mean tariffs on exports of up to 65% on beef and 46% on lamb. This Prime Minister is no friend to Scottish agriculture and he should do what Labour and businesses the length and breadth of the country are telling him to do – stop playing games and take no-deal off the table.”
The Register of Members’ Financial Interests: As of 17 June 2019 – Alister Jack (Dumfries and Galloway)
1. Employment and earnings
Until 21 February 2019, the non-executive chairman and director of Fulling Mill Ltd (manufacturer of fishing flies). Received £15,000 a year, paid monthly, for an estimated 60-80 hrs a year, chairing four board meetings a year and giving general advice.
2. Support linked to an MP but received by a local party organization or indirectly via a central party organization
Name of donor: John Cooper: Amount of donation, or nature and value if donation in kind: £6,000 paid to my campaign fund.
Name of donor: David D Stevenson: Amount of donation, or nature and value if donation in kind: £2,000 to my campaign fund.
6. Land and property portfolio: (i) value over £100,000 and/or (ii) giving rental income of over £10,000 a year
Agricultural land in Dumfries and Galloway:
Two cottages in Dumfries and Galloway:
Salmon fishery in Dumfries and Galloway:
7. Shareholdings: over 15% of issued share capital
Atlantic Solway Holdings Ltd; investment holding company.
Cantco Ltd; Lloyds insurance underwriting.
Edinburgh Self Storage Ltd.
Fishfigure Ltd; fishing app.
Mollin HEP Ltd; hydro-electric power.
7. (ii) Other shareholdings, valued at more than £70,000
One Rebel Ltd; fitness club.
Privet Capital Aeromet LP; supplier of aluminium and magnesium castings.
Privet Capital Pyser LP; supplier of precision optical and electro-optical equipment.
Rars Woodlands Ltd; Christmas tree grower.
Rars Woodlands 2 Ltd; Christmas tree grower.
Rars Woodlands 3 Ltd; Christmas tree grower.
Thomas Murray Network Management Ltd; custody rating on the global securities services industry.
Unpaid Director of Atlantic Salmon Trust, a charity for the conservation of wild salmon.
Until December 2018, unpaid Chairman of Fisheries Management Scotland, an umbrella organization for all fishery boards and trusts in Scotland.
From December 2018, an unpaid director (formerly Chairman) of River Annan Trust, a charity promoting conservation work in the River Annan Catchment.
From December 2018, an unpaid board member (formerly Chairman) of the River Annan and District Salmon Fishery Board.
Unpaid Director of Atlantic Solway Holdings Ltd; investment holding company.
Unpaid Director of Cantco Ltd; Lloyds insurance underwriting.
So much personal business to attend to. Where does he find the time to fully discharge his duties to his constituents as an MP?
Alister Jack MP is the new Secretary of State for Scotland after Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on his first day in office, sacked David Mundell.
Alistair Jack has been a Member of the UK Parliament since the General Election of 2017 representing Dumfries and Galloway which he won with a whopping 43.3% of the vote, ousting the sitting SNP MP who got 32.4%. Since then he has been rather quiet in the House of Commons.
They Work For You is an excellent site for checking how your MP’s voted on different issues. How did Alister Jack vote?:
Laws promoting equality and human rights
UK membership of the EU
Higher Taxes on banks
Transferring more powers to the Welsh Assembly
Transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament
Financial incentives for low carbon emission electricity generation methods
Raising the threshold at which people pay Income Tax
Measures to reduce tax avoidance
New High-Speed Rail Infrastructure
Reducing the amount of funding local government gets from central government
He spoke in 11 debates in the last year — well below average amongst MPs.
He received answers to 10 written questions in the last year — below average amongst MPs.
So that is Alister Jack’s record so far as MP for Dumfries and Galloway.
What about the man himself?
He was born on the 7th of July 1963 and went to Dalbeattie Primary School. Then he went on to Crawfordton House—a private prep school near Moniaive, Dumfriesshire—onwards to Glenalmond College, at that time an all-boys independent boarding school and finally Heriot-Watt University.
From there he made a fortune buying, founding and selling businesses. He owns 1200 acres of land near Lockerbie on which there is a dairy farm.
Let us not forget either that Alister Jack is a member of the Queen’s Bodyguard for Scotland, the Royal Company of Archers.
Secretary State for Scotland
Since the setting up of the Scottish Parliament, it has been difficult to justify having the office of Secretary State for Scotland. Indeed it has been suggested many times that the position does not fit with a devolved system.
The role according to the UK Government:
The main role of the Scottish Secretary is to promote and protect the devolution settlement. Other responsibilities include promoting partnership between the UK government and the Scottish government, and relations between the 2 Parliaments.
It might surprise folk that despite this limited job description a massive new building has been constructed in Edinburgh for the Secretary of State for Scotland.
The new building – Queen Elizabeth House – will also house HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Another hub will also be opened in Glasgow. From the start of 2020, these buildings will be filled with UK civil servants – 3,000 in the Edinburgh one.
The offices will be equipped with the latest IT equipment.
At the handing over of the keys, the then Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said he was very much looking forward to inviting the Westminster cabinet to meet in it. Oops, that’ll be Alister Jack’s job now.
It is difficult to find out much about Alister Jack’s work in the UK Parliament and for his constituency.
A list of Farmer Jacks Business Interests
Scottish Tory MP has over £70,000 of shares invested in Jardine Matheson Holdings (JMH), which is incorporated in Bermuda.
Farmer Jack has significant business interests and declares shares in 16 companies, in 10 of which his personal holding is worth at least £70,000.
One of the entities is “industrial conglomerate” JMH, which is an Asian-based business group. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and provides management services to companies in the wider group.
JMH was incorporated in 1984 in Bermuda, a British Overseas Territory that can provide tax advantages to firms that register on the island.
JMH is chaired by Eton-educated Sir Henry Keswick. Jack declared £3,000 of support from Sir Henry in the following Westminster declaration category: “Support linked to an MP but received by a local party organization or indirectly via a central party organization.”
Jack also declared £5,000 from Percy Weatherall, who is listed as a JMH director, in the same category on his MP register of interest.
In JMH’s latest half-yearly results, the group’s underlying profit for the first six months of 2017 rose 20 percent to $765 million, while revenue was $19.4 billion.
A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said Jack would not be disposing of the shares, adding:
“Quite rightly, there is no law banning politicians – or anyone else – from becoming involved in companies that happen to be registered in Bermuda.” (The Herald Aug 2017)
Farmer Jack and Cantco Holdings
Jack took over the company from Han Ngok Steve Cheng 25 August 2016. Cheng registered his companies in the Cayman Islands, another notorious tax haven. Much more here (https://offshoreleaks.icij.org/nodes/80047711)
Alister Jack and his Gentlemen Tory Farmer friends wield their power at Westminster
A recent report advised that one-third of the UK population was cutting down on meat, including one in eight who are vegetarian or vegan. This was caveated by other evidence that many were not totally strict and would occasionally eat meat.
Nevertheless, the trend is clear, and people are reducing the amount of meat they eat. And a major reason for doing so is because of health concerns. It’s therefore interesting to read that globally, food production is focused on the wrong kinds of food.
Researchers in Canada investigated what kinds of food were being grown, and found a glut of grains, sugar, and oils, but not enough fruit and vegetables. This is certainly the case in Britain, where an estimated 85% of agricultural land is used to grow meat and dairy products, with most of the rest being used to grow grains, oil crops – and sugar.
The UK is self-sufficient in pork and chickens but has to import over half of our vegetables and most of our fruit.
By value, the UK imports over 90% of the fruit and veg we consume. Clearly, this needs to change, and quickly.
It is essential therefore that the new Agriculture Bill, currently being progressed through Parliament, provides the policy leadership so desperately needed.
But the majority of gentlemen farmer MPs are gathered against the proposals, as they stand at present and they are a powerful lot.
There are around 290,000 farmers, including spouses and business partners in the UK – about 0.5% of the UK’s adult population. Logic dictates that if the number of farmers (or their spouses) who became MPs was the same as for any other walk in life, we would expect to see 3-4 farmer/farmer’s spouse MPs. Instead, we have rather more than that.
Of the 55 MPs who spoke in the 2nd reading debate of the Agriculture Bill, an astonishing 25% of them were either gentlemen farmers, owned farmland, or owned part of a farming business.
Another 10% identified as hobby farmers, farmer’s spouses, or had jobs in farming, or in one case came from “a long line of ploughmen.” It is no surprise that almost all farmer MPs are Tory’s, aside from one DUP MP who owns farmland and a large meat-processing business.
There is a Parliamentary convention that an MP should declare any interests they may have in a topic under debate, before making comments.
Most of the gentlemen farmer MPs just referred to their register of interests, as in “I refer the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests”.
But ever coy Alister Jack, Tory MP for Dumfries and Galloway, failed to mention that his ownership of Courance Farms and a number of other agricultural enterprises are provided with six-figure farming subsidy payments each year.
The conflict is clear. The National Farmers Union (NFU) preferring that farmers be paid to produce more food, with a few crumbs being spent on the environment continues with its campaign to derail Tory plans to introduce payments to farmers for “public goods”, rather than just paying landowners for owning land, as is currently the case.
So far the Tory government has held out against the pressure. but for how long??
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has been accused of “immoral and offensive” behaviour for saying the Universal Credit uplift had “run its course” – despite himself taking almost £100,000 in subsidies last year alone.
The Tory Cabinet minister lists Courance Farms on his Register of Interests – along with a raft of others including investment holding firm Atlantic Solway Holdings Ltd, and hydro-electric power company Mollin HEP Ltd.
Official figures from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) show that Courance Farms was handed £96,353.28 in handouts as part of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 2020 alone.
In previous years, the grants handed to Jack’s Courance Farms were still higher, reaching almost £200,000 in 2014 and 2015, Defra figures show.
Jack was elected to represent Dumfries and Galloway for the Tories in 2017.
The amount handed to his Courance Farms from the EU’s public purse since 2014 is as follows:
2014 – £194,557.65
2015 – £195,322.61
2016 – £74,792.11
2017 – £83,552.63
2018 – £91,945.68
2019 – £99,762.11
2020 – £96,353.28
This comes to a total of £836,286.07 over seven years, an average of £119,469.44 per year.
According to figures from farmsubsidy.org – a project of the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany – Jack also took more than €600,000 from the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) between 2001 and 2009.
Defra data from 2013 was unavailable, while Courance Farms does not appear in the data from 2011 or 2012 – where it may have been redacted. Nor does it appear in the data from 2010.