Business friendly activities
Scottish Parliament Business Exchange
Business in the Parliament
- Scottish Parliament held a 'Business in the Parliament' conference. Over 100 business delegate trooped in and sat in the elected members seats. Amongst the delegates were all the key peak business associations representing big business including the CBI, the Chemical Industries Association, the Scottish Food and Drink Federation and the Scottish BCSD. The press release from the parliament announced that the delegates were 'the people driving Scotland's economy.' ('SCOTLAND'S BUSINESS PEOPLE TAKE THEIR SEATS IN PARLIAMENT' Parliamentary News Release, 026/2004, 22 April 2004. )
- The trick here is to convince yourself that it is the business class not the workers who create the value in production. Otherwise you might come to the conclusion that the Parliament spin doctors are in the business of issuing corporate ideology dressed up as neutral official information. The final insult to the Parliament's founding principles of openness was that the discussion sessions in the conference were held in private. Pro-business assumptions amongst policy makers and lobbying by corporations result in reflex secrecy.
Science Information Service
Scottish Parliament Pension Scheme
- MINISTERS responsible for introducing Scotland’s smoking ban have been accused of hypocrisy after it emerged they are paying into a pension firm that has £126m invested in the world’s biggest cigarette company.
- Jack McConnell, the first minister, and Andy Kerr, the health minister, can expect a lucrative payout from investment firm Baillie Gifford, which owns 3m shares in US-based Altria, makers of Marlboro cigarettes.
- The value of Altria shares has risen by 230% in the past five years. Parliament officials believe the £10m pension fund the firm runs for all Scottish ministers and MSPs is directly invested in tobacco firms.
- McConnell is also expected to benefit from a Labour party pension from his time as Scottish general secretary.
- The Sunday Times has learnt that the £31m pension scheme for party officials is run by UBS Global Asset Management, which has a £281m shareholding in Altria, which produces more than 25 brands of cigarettes.
- Since 1997, when Labour came to power, UBS has invested fundholders’ money in five of the world’s biggest tobacco firms, including BAT, Imperial Tobacco and Seita.
- Three months ago, the company sponsored a conference run by Imperial Tobacco, the makers of Embassy cigarettes which claimed the Scottish smoking ban was unnecessary and that most people would prefer limited restrictions.
Arms trade, oil, Iraq
- CALLS to reform Holyrood’s pension scheme have been stepped up after it emerged taxpayers’ money is invested in a mining company embroiled in an Iraqi oil scandal.
- The fund has a £200,000-plus stake in BHP Billiton, an Anglo-Australian firm currently under investigation for its role in the oil-for-food controversy.
- The MSP pension pot also includes a £100,000 investment in a business that has organised an arms fair and a near-£50,000 financial interest in a company that pioneered GM crops.
- The revelations are another blow for a scheme that has already come under fire for so-called unethical investments. It was revealed in March that the MSP fund had a £177,740 stake in Imperial Tobacco, an investment that contradicts the parliament’s tough anti-smoking policies.
- Now the Sunday Herald can reveal the pension scheme, which is managed by Baillie Gifford, has shares in several companies with controversial links to Iraq. One of the firms, BHP Billiton, has been dragged into an Australian inquiry set up to probe illegal payments to Saddam Hussein’s regime under the ill-fated oil-for-food programme.
- The head of the Royal Commission into the affair recently demanded extra powers to investigate the role of the mining company, after which it was reported that BHP Billiton had considered giving the deposed Iraqi regime a $100 million loan to secure oil contracts.
- The MSP pension fund also has large stakes in companies that stand to profit from the toppling of Hussein, such as the near-£100,000 investment in ConocoPhillips, the US energy firm that recently got a foothold in Iraq’s West Qurna oilfield.
- In a similar vein, Baillie Gifford’s holdings include a £200,000 investment in Royal Dutch/Shell and a near-£300,000 interest in BP, companies that are studying the Iraqi oilfields in Kirkuk and Rumaila.
- Documents obtained by the Sunday Herald also reveal the fund has a near-£50,000 stake in US oil services company Schlumberger, which reportedly got round sanctions imposed on Iraq by using foreign subsidiaries to win lucrative contracts. Other investments include a £100,000 stake in Reed Elsevier, which the medical journal The Lancet criticised for organising an arms fair, and around £50,000 of shares in Monsanto, a company which pioneered GM crops.
- The Baillie Gifford portfolio also reveals a £150,000-plus holding in Rio Tinto, the mining company which was alleged by Friends of the Earth to have destroyed land and contaminated rivers through dumping millions of tonnes of waste in Indonesia.
Other firms in which investments are held include Omnicom the communications conglomerate which owns three of the largest PR firmms in the world, including Fleishman Hillard which has an active lobbying office in Edinburgh targetting the Scottish Parliament.
Scottish Parliament Pension Scheme List of Holdings 2006, Released under the Freedom of Information Act. (3MB)
- ^ SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT SCIENCE INFORMATION SCHEME LAUNCHED Parliamentary News Release, 055/2003, Thursday 18 September 2003
- ^ Jason Allardyce Ministers ‘investing in cigarettes’ The Sunday Times - Scotland, March 19, 2006
- ^ Paul Hutcheon, Scottish Political Editor MSP pension scheme linked to Iraq scandal, Sunday Herald, 28 May 2006.
- ^ Scottish Parliament Pension Scheme List of Holdings 2006, Released under the Freedom of Information Act. (3MB)