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Tony Banks
"It is socially unacceptable, but financially not very clever either."
 real 28k

The BBC's Guto Harri
"The news is embarrassing for Labour"
 real 28k

Monday, 24 January, 2000, 09:04 GMT
Labour row over animal tests

HLS research centre is a target for protesters

Former minister Tony Banks has called on the Labour Party to its withdraw pension fund investment from a firm which carries out experiments on animals.

The party is to ask trustees of its staff pension fund to review the use of its assets after it emerged the fund had 75,000 shares in Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), the largest research laboratory in Europe.

Former Sports Minister Mr Banks, a long-standing opponent of experiments on animals, suggested the party withdraw the investment "pretty damn quick".

'Ethical fund'

Mr Banks told the BBC: "I certainly believe it is very advisable for an organisation like the Labour Party to make sure its investments are channelled through an ethical fund.

"The growth of the ethical funds has been quite dramatic in recent years and their financial returns have also been above average.

Tony Banks: Ministers would be unaware of investment
"What's interesting about the Huntingdon investment is not only is it socially unacceptable, but financially not very clever either."

The revelation is an embarrassment to leaders of the party, which promised to improve animal welfare as one of its pre-election pledges.

But Mr Banks said he did not believe any ministers could have known about the investment, which was made through the party's superannuation fund managers Phillips & Drew.

He said: "I doubt if there were any government ministers who were aware of an investment by Huntingdon Life Sciences by the Labour Party superannuation fund.

"All of us who are working, are fortunate to have jobs, who have got superannuation funds, pension funds, would be quite surprised, perhaps shocked, to find out where our money is being invested.

New guidelines

"Now the Labour Party knows about it of course it should immediately tell Phillips & Drew, who are the people who have made the investment, to divest the funds from Huntingdon."

A spokeswoman for the party said it was up to the fund's trustees to look into this matter and act as they saw appropriate in drawing up socially responsible investment guidelines.

The trustees had been asked to draw up the new guidelines before the HLS investment came to light, she said.

A Home Office investigation into HLS in April 1997 - before Labour took office - found unsatisfactory conditions at the centre and revoked its licence for six months.

The latest revelation has already sparked outrage among animal welfare groups, who condemned the investment as unacceptable.

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See also:
11 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Hunt ban moves closer
21 Jul 99 |  UK
Campaigners plead for piglets' tails
09 Feb 99 |  UK Politics
MP seeks live export ban

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