On Wednesday 4 February, Councillor Mick Bowman and Councillor David Stockdale took a Labour motion through Newcastle City Council, opposing the Tories plan to curb the power of Councils to divest from unethical companies or countries. The motion passed and was adopted as policy by the Council.
Text of the Motion
Notice of Motion – ethical policy re procurement and pension fund investments
Councillor Bowman Councillor Stockdale
With alarm the recent statement from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) confirming that new guidelines will be introduced early in the New Year which will curb councils’ powers to divest from or stop trading with organisations or countries they regard as unethical.
Council further notes that the new guidelines, which will amend Pensions and Procurement law, follow on from the government’s announcement made at the beginning of October 2015 that it was planning to introduce new rules to stop “politically motivated boycott and divestment campaigns” (Greg Clarke, Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government).
Council recognises that the focus of these new measures may be on procurement and investment policies and that they may have profound implications for Councils’ ethical investment policies more generally.
Newcastle City Council is proud of its commitment to human rights and to putting this into practice through such measures as an ethical approach to its relationship with business as outlined under Newcastle’s Social Value Commitment.
Council believes that the proposed measures now being outlined by the DCLG will seriously undermine the Council’s ability to implement its commitment to ethical procurement and pensions investments.
Council also notes that the new guidelines represent a further, serious attack on local democracy and decision-making through a further restriction on councils’ powers. This is directly contrary to the government’s own stated commitment to the principle of localism, given a statutory basis by the Localism Act of 2011, which holds that local authorities are best able to do their job when they have genuine freedom to respond to what local people want, not what they are told to do by government.
Newcastle City Council therefore requests Cabinet to take all legal measures possible to oppose these new measures, including:
- Writing to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to express Council’s unequivocal opposition to the proposed changes as part of the consultation · Working with any other local authority, the NECA, the LGA or other appropriate forums as well other partner organisations (such as local trade unions and community groups) who share these concerns to raise awareness of the implications of the proposed measures and to campaign against their introduction · Newcastle City Council reaffirms its commitment to an ethical basis to its procurement and pensions investment policy.”
Councillor Mick Bowman, who tabled the motion said:
“This vindictive and ideologically motivated proposal is a blanket attempt by the Tories to prevent local authorities from having an ethical procurement and pensions investment policy. Newcastle is a city with a proud commitment to human rights and to progressive causes such as the movement for justice for Palestine and with this motion we are fighting back against the attempt to stifle our right to show practical solidarity with such causes”
Please spread the word and if you’re a Labour Councillor please take this motion through your own Council.
For the full consultation and to take action: