Bill to tackle 'vulture funds' on track to become law this week

By staff writers
April 7, 2010

A landmark bill to protect the poorest countries in the world from profiteering by so-called 'vulture funds' passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons today.

The bill has been revived after Parliamentarians thought it had been killed off by a rogue MP.

There was an outcry last month after the bill was blocked by the unidentified Conservative - thought to be backbencher Christopher Chope.

Jubilee Debt Campaign welcomed the successful passage of the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill, which is expected to be fast-tracked through the House of Lords tomorrow as part of the 'wash-up' at the end of the Parliamentary session.

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 profit.

Today the Government pushed the bill forward as part of their 'wash-up' package of legislation before the General Election, and all major parties supported its passage. The bill is a Private Member's Bill, proposed by Andrew Gwynne MP, and it is very unusual for such Bills to pass through 'wash-up' in this way.

International support for the bill, the first of its kind in the world, has been expressed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana.

Nick Dearden, Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: "We are delighted that the Government has brought the Vultures Fund Bill back from the dead, and that cross-party support for the bill has been reaffirmed. If this bill becomes law tomorrow, it will stop these unethical investment funds from using British courts to profit from poverty. Right across the least developed countries, people are watching the British Parliament to see if they will be the first to end this activity. We pay tribute to the MPs who have put such enormous amounts of time into ensuring this important bill becomes law."

Sally Keeble MP, who presented the bill at its Third Reading, said: "This bill will make a real difference to the lives of some of the poorest people in the world. It's a tribute to what can happen when MPs and public organisations such as Jubilee Debt join forces. If this gets through, it will be the first legislation of its type in the world. For the UK taxpayer it will mean that money given for debt-relief can no longer be creamed off by secretive funds but will instead go to schools, hospitals and much needed services in these extremely poor countries."

Andrew Gwynne MP, sponsor of the bill said: "I am very pleased that the ‘vulture funds bill’ has made it through the House of Commons today. There has been a great deal of support in Parliament from all political parties to put an end to these unjust funds, it would be a lasting legacy to this session of Parliament if the Lords passed this into law."


Keywords:vulture funds
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