FAO Newsdesks 22nd February 2001
CAAT Reveals Investments by Labour Party, Leukeamia Research Fund and Leading Public Health, Church and Educational Institutions in Arms Export Trade
Campaign Against Arms Trade today revealed investments by leading UK public institutions including:
- The British Medical Association Staff Pension Fund
- The United Reform Church
- Royal Opera House Benevolent Fund
- NHS Trusts
- Hospices and hospitals (including St. Bartholomew's Hospital)
- Scottish National Trust
- local authorities across London and the UK
- Northern Ireland Health and Personal Social Services
- Colleges and universities throughout the UK including Oxford and Cambridge
CAAT's report highlights investments in the six leading arms companies in the UK: BAE Systems, Alvis, GKN, Hunting, Cobham and Rolls Royce.
These companies have sold and are currently selling weapons to countries involved in conflict, to repressive regimes, areas of tension, and developmentally needy countries.
(General quote) Alan McLaughlin of Campaign Against Arms Trade said 'These organisations are answerable to the public who fund them. Polls have shown that people do not want to fund the deaths, poverty and repression caused by the arms trade - a trade which is government subsidised and a drain on the British economy. There is nothing stopping these institutions investing ethically, by not doing so they treat the public with contempt'
He continued 'What is also disturbing, is that the electronic share dealing system CREST obscures who really owns the investment, this allows institutions to become unaccountable to the people they serve'.
(Leukaemia Research Fund) "For a medical organisation to invest in the arms trade and profit from the misery it helps cause is totally inconsistent with the principles of medicine. For a charity, funded partly by the public, whose work is to research and hence combat leukaemia, to invest in BAE Systems, the UK's exclusive supplier of Depleted uranium weaponry is inexcusable. Health concerns have multiplied over the last few months about the use of DU and one of the worries is that it may cause Leukaemia. While more research is needed in this area it is extremely problematic for the Leukaemia Research Fund to retain its shareholding on the grounds of these concerns alone, let alone the general death and deprivation caused by the arms trade."
(Labour Party) Alan McLaughlin of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: 'The fact that the Labour Party has holdings, via its pension funds, in an arms company like BAE Systems is thoroughly indicative of the cosy relationship between the party and the weapons industry. Tony Blair is a friend of the arms dealers and the Labour Party's failure to adopt an ethical investment policy in its pension fund reflects this. The majority of the public supports ethical investment and is opposed to arming the very regimes that BAE routinely does business with. By investing in this deadly industry the Labour Party is, once again, ignoring the concerns of the public.'
He continued 'There is an obvious conflict of interests here - the Labour government is charged with making decisions on arms exports from which the Labour Party stand to benefit financially.
(Educational institutions) Kevin Mullen of Campaign Against Arms Trade said "Higher educational institutions have aims which most reasonable people would see as inconsistent with deaths, poverty and repression caused by the international arms trade. These centres of learning are more normally associated with critical political thinking and peace studies than with promoting war and human rights abuse, but by continuing to invest in companies like BAE Systems they are doing just that. MoD research shows that the majority of British people oppose arms sales except to our closest allies. The companies listed sell indiscriminately to any buyer they can get away with supplying. By not divesting from arms companies, higher educational institutions are tarnishing the laudable pursuit of learning and showing contempt for the opinions of the public and therefore the people they serve and represent."
He continued "Educational institutions do have a choice. Ethical funds exist, are successful and are gaining in popularity. Colleges and universities should look to their investment policies and withdraw their support for the arms trade."
(Health trusts) Robin Oakley of Campaign Against Arms Trade said, "Health trusts and hospices exist to help heal people, but these investments benefit a trade that causes death, injury, suffering and misery worldwide. For these charities to hold shares in arms companies is thoughtless, hypocritical and an insult to the efforts of medics working around the world to heal the damage done in conflicts fought with imported arms."
He continued, "Most people in the UK oppose arming any other country apart from our closest allies. The arms companies that these health trusts and hospitals have invested in, like BAE Systems, supply weapons all over the globe to regions of tension, war zones, oppressive states and developing countries. By not investing ethically health bodies display not only a cynical hypocrisy, but also contempt for the concerns of the public they exist to serve."
(Local Authorities) Robin Oakley of Campaign Against Arms Trade said, "Local authorities should reflect the concerns of the public that they serve. Research shows that 77% of adults in the UK support ethical investment in their pension funds and 62% think that the UK should only allow arms sales to its closest allies. These arms companies are engaged in supplying deadly weapons to war zones, regions of tension, oppressive regimes and developing countries around the world. It is not good enough for local authorities whose role is to look after people in this country to invest in companies that cause misery to people in other countries."
He continued, "Many institutions have divested their arms shares and found that it is legally and financially viable. Ethical funds perform well and are readily available through investment managers. Employees of local authorities should be able to decide whether or not they want their pensions invested in an industry that fuels death, deprivation and misery."
(Charities) Robin Oakley of Campaign Against Arms Trade said, "Charities cannot survive without public funds. It is only the generosity of well meaning people that allows charities to exist at all. Research shows that the majority of people in the UK support ethical investment and oppose arms sales to any country other than our very closest allies. By investing in arms companies, like BAE Systems, that arm oppressive regimes, countries at war, and developing countries they are betraying the trusts and principles of the people who fund them."
He continued, "Charities work for the public good, but they should not do so at the cost of supporting the death and suffering of people around the world affected by the poverty, conflicts and regimes that the arms trade fuels and supports."
(Pensions) Robin Oakley of Campaign Against Arms Trade said, "A 1999 poll by EIRIS and NOP into pensions showed that 77% of UK adults want their pensions invested ethically. For so many pension funds, including those of public bodies like local authorities, political parties, universities and unions to invest in these companies is simply not acceptable."
CAAT's Clean Investment Campaign has so far resulted in divestments by several institutions - the Catholic Church and Church of England has now completely divested in the arms export trade.
Contact Alan McLaughlin, Kevin Mullen or Robin Oakley on +44-(0)-20 7281 0297