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Second Church Estates Commissioner (Oral): Investment: Pharmaceutical Companies

29 January 2015

3. Fiona Bruce (Congleton) (Con): What ethical investment policies the Church of England applies when investing in pharmaceutical companies or other medical organisations. [907275]

Sir Tony Baldry: The Church Commissioners’ ethical investment policy prevents investment in pharmaceutical companies when more than 10% of their main business involves human or embryonic cloning. No such companies have been identified to date.

Fiona Bruce: Does my right hon. Friend agree that there should be a better understanding of the implications of the proposed mitochondrial donation regulations, and that the outstanding experiments relating to their safety should be completed and reviewed—as has been recommended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority—before they are approved by the House?

Sir Tony Baldry: I think that, in due course, the House will have to consider some quite difficult issues relating to both the start and the end of life. The Church of England accepts that embryo research is permissible if it is undertaken to alleviate human suffering, but there are, I agree with my hon. Friend, concerns that there has been insufficient scientific study of, and informed consultation on, the ethics of mitochondrial transfer, not least in respect of the role that mitochondria play in the transfer of hereditary characteristics.

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): It is extremely important for people to understand investment. The Church has made great progress in setting up credit unions, but what is being done to encourage young people and children to develop a betting understanding of the importance of saving?

Sir Tony Baldry: We seem to have skipped the question tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury North (Mr Nuttall), and to have skipped the hon. Lady’s preliminary question, so I shall reply to her question as if it were a supplementary.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s task group on responsible credit and savings has received £150,000 funding from the Treasury for a trial of savings clubs known as “life savers” in six schools located in various parts of the country. I entirely agree with the hon. Lady’s point about the importance of financial education. If the trial works, the Church of England intends to extend the programme to more than 100 Church of England schools over a four-year period, which will benefit more than 30,000 children.