A Press and Journal investigation has found that British American Tobacco is the second-biggest equity holding in Highland Council’s pension scheme. The scheme increased its investment in the tobacco giant last year from £12.6 million to £15.2 million.
John Finnie has been campaigning to persuade pension schemes – including the Scottish Parliament’s own scheme – to stop bankrolling the tobacco, weapons and fossil fuel industries and direct their investment into more socially useful activities. He urged the Highland Council scheme to dump its tobacco shares:
“The Highland Council pension scheme manages one and a half billion pounds that could be providing a secure future for employees while investing in work that benefits society. Instead they are choosing to bankroll an industry which kills over 10,000 Scots every year.
“I don’t believe Council employees, who have chosen a career working for the wellbeing of the Highland community, want their retirement to rely on the profits of Big Tobacco.
“Ethical investments which avoid supporting harmful industries perform just as well for savers without profiting from suffering.
“And schemes like the Housing Fund for Scotland allow pension funds to invest directly in the homes and jobs Scotland needs – an opportunity Falkirk Council has already taken up.
“I’m asking Highland Council’s pension fund to stop bankrolling Big Tobacco, Big Oil and the arms industry, and build a secure future for its members on investments that will help make a better world for them to retire into.”