Protect local democracy

The government is consulting about proposed changes to the way local authorities in England and Wales invest their members’ pension funds which many say is to block local authorities from making ethical investment decisions relating to the arms trade. The consultation ends on 19 February.
These changes would allow central government to block ethical investment decisions made by democratically elected authorities like Harrow which is in close proximity of at least 13 weapon producers, military suppliers, and the surveillance and security industry, including Babcock International Group, Esterline, Iveco and Ultra Electronics.
More specific concern is that the proposed guidance would bar local authorities from practising ethical investments that reflect the values and opinions of local communities who want to ensure that their council is not supporting companies with proven records of doing harm to the environment, health and human rights nationally or internationally.
The Conservative Party’s reported press release announcing the changes explicitly said it was to prevent campaigns “against UK defence companies”, but the legislation could have far wider implications, for example blocking ethical investment decisions related to other human rights issues or climate change.
We take that the Harrow council that has adopted ‘fair trade’ principles, has forcefully opposed government proposal to grant the Secretary of State the power to intervene in local authorities investment decisions which tantamount to undermine the rights/ choices of pension fund members.