Tory MP kills anti-poverty bill
A Conservative MP today objected to the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill in a move which has effectively killed the bill. Legislation to prevent ‘vulture funds’ (1) profiting in UK courts will now not be passed during this Parliament.
Campaigners are now calling on the leader of the opposition, David Cameron to clarify:
- Which MP objected to the bill;
- What his party’s view of this objection is and what action they will take against the MP concerned;
- Whether his party will support vulture legislation within 12 months of forming a government if they win the next General Election.
One MP – though which could not be clarified by the Speaker of the House – objected to the Debt Relief Bill while it was passing through its report stage and third reading this morning. Given the short space of time before a General Election is called, this effectively means the bill will now not pass to its next stage.
Campaigners from Jubilee Debt Campaign (2) have expressed anger and disappointment at the move.
The move came on the day that former Tanzanian President Benjamin William Mkapa backed the bill, saying: “I hope the international community joins hands to put an end to these deplorable activities of the Vulture Funds.” The bill has also been backed by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Nick Dearden, Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign said:
“It is an outrage that one MP has taken it upon himself to effectively kill a bill which has the support of the vast majority of the House of Commons. This action has destroyed the hopes of many people across the developing world that we might put an end to the appalling practice of vulture funds. This move will mean many of the poorest countries in the world will continue suffering at the hands of reckless and unethical investors.
”We pay tribute to the work of MPs who have taken this bill so far, most notably Sally Keeble and Andrew Gwynne – but also the many other MPs who have supported this bill from all parties. Unfortunately their hard work has been undone in a matter of minutes. We are asking clarity of the leadership of the Conservative Party as to their position with regards to this legislation.”
Andrew Gwynne MP, who proposed the bill said:
“It is completely outrageous that the Conservatives have opposed this Bill at the final moment in Parliament. A number of concessions had been specifically been made to gain their support, for a Bill that would have helped the very poorest people in the world.”
“Vulture Funds are completely unacceptable and it is staggering the Conservatives are still unwilling to support even the most basic legislation to help reduce Third World Debt.”
For more information contact JDC media line: 020 7324 4724; 07932 335 464
(1) Vulture Funds are private investment companies which take advantage of the relaxed laws in British courts to buy up Third World debt at dramatically reduced prices and sue poor countries for their full value plus costs. In the process, companies make excessive rates of profit. The practice has cost the poorest countries in the world over a billion dollars in recent years. Most recently two such companies sued Liberia - one of the poorest countries in the world - for $20million in the British High Court last November.
(2) Jubilee Debt Campaign is a UK coalition demanding 100% cancellation of unpayable and illegitimate developing country debts. For more information see www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk.