|Today, Monday 24th October, MPs will debate the new regulations being imposed on the Local Government Pensions Scheme (LGPS), due to come into force on 1st November 2016.
This legislation, will prevent local councils from being able to make ethical decisions, in the interests of their members, not to invest in companies complicit in Israel’s breaches of international law and violation of Palestinian rights, and also the arms trade.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is calling on the government to withdraw this legislation which undermines the spirit of local democracy and the ability of the LGPS to make decisions in the interests of their members. PSC has written to MPs to ask them to participate in the debate and oppose the government’s imposition of this legislation.
PSC is hoping the parliamentary debate on Local Government Pension Scheme will change the government’s mind about imposing legislation on to local authorities in England and Wales.
The debate is taking place from 4.30-7.30pm today, Monday 24th November.
This debate is taking place as a result of over 100,000 scheme members and other members of the public having signed a Parliamentary petition requesting that the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) be invested in the scheme member’s interest and not, as the Government propose, in accordance with their foreign and defence policy.
Despite this petition – and the fact that over 23,000 responses to the Government consultation earlier this year were opposed to the new regulations – the Government has tabled in Parliament a Statutory Instrument which will become law on 1st November 2016.
Ben Jamal, Director of PSC said: “The government has made clear that the denial of local councils right to withdraw money from companies complicit in the violation of international law are specifically designed to prevent economic pressure being placed on Israel. The regulations suppress the right of local councils to act in accordance with their own ethical judgments. All those concerned both about local democracy and the upholding of international law should oppose these regulations.”
The Statutory Instrument tabled by the UK Government is denying the scheme members of the LGPS their statutory right to have their pension funds invested in their best interests as all other pension scheme members in the UK enjoy. This is in breach of Article 18 of the EU Directive Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) of 2003. This states pension funds must invest in the best interest of their members and that that member states shall not require institutions to invest in particular categories of assets.
Palestine Solidarity Campaign believes these new regulations undermine local democracy and the right of the Local Government Pension Scheme members to make the right decisions when faced with the choice of investing in Israel’s breaches of international law and human rights in Palestine.