Thursday, 15 January 2009

Open Letter to the Trustees of the Assembly Member's Pension Fund

Dear Trustees,

Re: Assembly Members Pension Scheme

I am writing to you to raise my concerns about the nature of some of the companies that the Assembly Members Pension Scheme invests in. I have grave concerns regarding the ethics of some of the companies, in particular the following:

 BHP Billiton is the world’s largest mining company. There have been allegations that this company have had involvement in the Iraqi food for oil programme as well as causing environmental destruction in Papua New Guinea.

 Monsanto’s involvement in genetically modified food is well documented.

 Arch Coal is the second largest US coal producer. They stand accused of having reduced the height of the Appalachian Mountains by 800ft, destroying vegetation, causing flooding and contaminating water supplies.

 Royal Dutch Shell has caused an estimated £10 billion worth of environmental destruction in the Niger Delta.

 British American Tobacco whose activities in Africa last year prompted the BBC to produce a documentary showing how they target children through music competitions and the sale of cigarettes, breaking their own code of conduct and company standards.

 Reliance Industries Ltd. which is helping to accelerate climate change by building multi-billion dollar dams in the Himalayas, threatening the livelihood and very identity of those living in these Himalaya valleys.

Clearly the reported actions of some of the companies’ run counter to the stated policies of this National Assembly.

The National Assembly has a statutory obligation to promote sustainability. The smoking ban was introduced in Wales early because the Assembly sees smoking as a serious public health issue. Our position of opposition to GM crops is well known.

According to the Statement of Investment Principles for the National Assembly for Wales Members Pension Scheme…

“The trustees have a fiduciary duty to invest the assets of the fund for the benefit of the fund members and that the trustees’ main duty is to act in the financial interests of the scheme’s beneficiaries”, and ”In order to carry out this responsibility the trustees have appointed an investment manager who has complete discretion over the investments made”.

It goes on to say “However, non-financial considerations, such as ethical policies, may be taken into account when comparing investments with the same potential return”.

I therefore ask that as trustees you conduct an urgent review of the companies invested in with a view to recommending a more ethical portfolio of investments for the scheme.

Yours Sincerely,

Leanne Wood AM / AC

1 comment:

plaidcasnewydd said...

Well said.

The third sector is regularly afflicted with this kind of predicament. Trust fund managers struggle to resist the incentives of big returns. I think a leading disability charity was investing in an arms firm whose products caused many amputations a few years back.

I'd be tempted to mention BHP Billiton's and Shell's role in the exploitation of national Iraqi oil reserves too. They are running a big oilfield in Iraq apiece I believe.

Is it worth mentioning here that the assembly, because of a shortage of devolved powers, is powerless to prevent this kind of investment- all decisions of this nature go through whitehall no?