Call to halt arms link
A COUNCILLOR is calling for changes to a pension fund after discovering council employees money is being invested in arms companies. Lib Dem Councillor Robin Parker, leader of the opposition at Stevenage Borough Council, is concerned that money from Hert
A COUNCILLOR is calling for changes to a pension fund after discovering council employees' money is being invested in arms companies.
Lib Dem Councillor Robin Parker, leader of the opposition at Stevenage Borough Council, is concerned that money from Hertfordshire Pension Fund is invested in defence companies.
Employees from Stevenage Borough Council and North Herts District Council pay money into the fund, which invests £18m across seven such companies, including Stevenage-based BAE Systems, EADS, Rolls Royce and Northrop Grumman.
Cllr Parker said: "Britain needs arms to defend itself and someone needs to make them. But I've always thought that some arms companies have sold arms indiscriminately to nations and groups who are unstable and/or undesirable or have later used them against ourselves.
"I don't approve of that and I think there should be more controls on arms companies.
"I don't think it's morally defensible to make money out of blowing the arms and legs off people.
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"The people who decide where to invest Hertfordshire Pension Fund are members and officers at Hertfordshire County Council and there is an investment committee which deals with that.
"I think they should review the situation as regard arms investments."
A spokesman for Hertfordshire County Council, which administers the pension fund, said investment in defence companies accounts for one per cent of the market value of the £1.8 billion fund.
The council's investment committee decides the overall asset allocation and appoints external fund managers, who in turn must give quarterly reports to the committee.
The spokesman added: "As a local authority, we don't make decisions about where pension funds are invested, we rely on our fund managers to do this based on the balance of risk and return.
"We don't express a preference either for or against investing in defence industries, and cannot compare our investments with other authorities.
"This is the position. We see our role as picking the best managers to do the work and get the best return possible to minimise the cost to the taxpayer.