UK - A group of members of the Scottish parliament want to stop their pension fund investing in tobacco companies.

Earlier this year the parliamentary corporate body SPCB had decided not to change the investment strategy - despite the smoking ban in Scotland.

Green MSP Eleanor Scott, who leads the group against tobacco investment, wants all MSPs to vote on the issue saying she is confident that they will agree with her group. They have written to George Reid, the Presiding Officer, who said he will consider the letter.

Currently the £10.7m (€16m) Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme (SPPS) has almost all of its assets (£10.4m) invested in the Baillie Gifford Managed Pension Fund, "which does not allow for selective investments," a spokesman for the parliament confirmed to IPE. The fund currently holds approximately 2% of its assets in tobacco stocks.

However, the parliamentary corporate body SPCB "recognises there is an issue to be considered regarding investment of its pension funds and therefore reviewed its position with the fund manager".

A bespoke segregated solution offered by Baillie Gifford was rejected on two grounds. "Firstly, it would cost almost £23,000 a year more, and secondly, it offered no guarantee that there would not be underlying investments in tobacco related industries."

In a meeting on September 26 the SPCB pointed out that "Baillie Gifford operates a socially responsible investment policy and this applies to its Managed Pension Fund. The policy is to engage actively with companies in which it invests rather than adopting a policy of "exclusion" which seeks to impose their system of beliefs or values on the range of possible investments."

The body also said that Baillie Gifford's Managed Pension Fund "has very small holdings (approx 0.4%) in companies that in the purest sense fall under "defence" categories." 

The SPCB's decision had caused criticism by anti-smoking campaigners as well as from groups opposing the smoking ban who are calling the MSPs "hypocrites".