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Labour commits to Vultures Debt Relief Bill in manifesto

3 April 2010

The Labour Party has announced that the election manifesto will include a clear commitment to introduce tough new legislation on vulture funds early in the next Parliament.

A few weeks ago, Labour MPs Andrew Gwynne & Sally Keeble introduced his Private Members Bill to tackle Vulture Funds once and for all. With the support of Government and Treasury Minister Ian Pearson, the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill made good progress.

As we reported, at its third reading in the House of Commons, it was torpedoed by Conservative MPs who objected to it, despite having promised to support the bill.

Vulture funds buy developing country debt at low cost and then sue these poor countries for the money. They undermine development in the poorest countries and use the UK legal system to do so.

We’re please that there will be a new commitment in the manifesto to stop this sickening practice from happening. Please add your backing to this measure by clicking here.

Meanwhile, we’ll leave you with this interview with Chris Cope MP, the Conservative MP to ruined the Vultures Bill, by anti-poverty campaigner Jameela Oberman. Draw your own conclusions:

Q. The Debt Relief Bill would have prevented loan sharks from fleecing money that was meant for people in developing countries who lack facilities like basic hospital care for their children, they are dying because of this, don’t you have a conscience about what you’ve done?

A. Well, I’ve said before I am sorry these countries having corrupt regimes who take from their people.

Q. How is this relevant when the Bill was specifically aimed at targeting vulture funds and tailored so these countries aren’t ordered in UK courts to pay investor sharks money these sharks are not owed? And so that aid money from your electorate isn’t spent on their estates, yachts and fat bank accounts? The Bill completely safeguards against countries with corrupt regimes – both front benches agreed. Are you saying it’s preferable for these investor sharks to pocket millions plus enormous inflated interest because you’d rather that than it goes to ‘these countries corrupt regimes’?

A. (No answer but scoffs at the question) There were objections I had with the Bill that needed to be discussed but the government didn’t allow it enough time.

Q. Yes I read that one of your claimed reasons for objecting to the Bill was that it would deter future investors in loaning money to countries. Could you please explain these concerns and why you, as Chairman of the Committee, waited until after the first, second and third reading to object?

A. To start there is no debate in the first reading, if you know anything about journalism and had done your research you would have looked it up in Hansard and read the concerns I expressed in the second reading.

Q. What I meant is that you had ample time to work through and clear-up any queries you had and that the Bill had cross-party and front-bench support- even support from your Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne.

A. Just because a Bill has support by all parties doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be discussed – as I said in the local paper I have been made a scapegoat. It was the government who did not allow the Bill enough time to be discussed. I expressed my concerns in the second reading, which you can refer to in Hansard.

Q. As you’re here now, could you please tell me in a few words your main concerns with a Bill that your front bench supported?

A. I repeat if you had done your research properly by looking in Hansard you would have known from there, I am not discussing it now.

Q. Ok, so if your reason for shouting ‘object’ at the last minute is justified and you have nothing to be ashamed of why did you refuse to identify yourself to MP Sally Keeble who was trying to get the Bill through?

A. Because that is standard practice, the Speaker of the house will always protect the right of anonymity with an unattributable basis.

Q. But why did you then choose to keep your anonymity?

A. As I said it is standard practice. If I could ask you to leave now we’ve ran out of time.

Q. Before I leave, would you support the Bill for the party manifesto if the Conservative party wins the election?

A. I’m not on the front bench it’s not up to me.

Q. Of course but will you urge the front bench to support the Bill?

A. Goodbye.

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