HC Deb 20 April 1998 vol 310 c476
39. Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey)

What recent discussions have taken place between the Church Commissioners and diocesan authorities about ethical investment. [37447]

Mr. Stuart Bell (Second Church Estates Commissioner, representing the Church Commissioners)

Members of the Church of England's ethical investment working group frequently meet and give presentations to various diocesan bodies regarding the Church's ethical investment policy.

Mr. Hughes

Would the hon. Gentleman ensure that there is not merely regular or some contact between the dioceses and the Church Commissioners, but some mechanism whereby, before any decision is taken by a diocese, such as mine of Southwark, which I read had invested in the defence industries, it is fully briefed on the implications and alternatives, and on issues that relate to the Jubilee 2000 repayment of debt agenda? Many countries that buy arms sold by the companies in which our diocese invests could pay off or reduce their debts and spend on more worthwhile activities if they did not buy those arms.

Mr. Bell

Under the Cathedrals Measure 1963, chapters are requested to seek our advice before investing, although they are not required to follow it. The Church Commissioners publish information about the ethical investment policy of the Church's central investing bodies. It is widely circulated and a report is made annually to the General Synod of the Church of England. As the hon. Gentleman knows, there is a review of the Cathedrals Measure, and a Cathedrals Measure will come before the House shortly.