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Second Church Estates Commissioner (Oral): Petrochemical Companies

12 March 2015

10. Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab): What the Church Commissioners’ policy is on investing their funds in petrochemical companies. [908046]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Canon Sir Tony Baldry): The Church Commissioners do invest in petrochemical companies. These investments are managed in line with our ethical investment policy. The commissioners intend to continue to engage collaboratively with other shareholders and the industry to encourage greater transparency and transition to a lower-carbon economy.

Kerry McCarthy: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply. It is an honour to be the last person ever to ask him a question. It is just a shame that we are not talking about bats, as we usually do.

I know that the right hon. Gentleman feels that some progress has been made on this issue, but others have said that the Church of England is rather dragging its feet. Will he heed the calls of Archbishop Desmond Tutu to show strong moral leadership on this issue and report back sooner rather than later?

Canon Sir Tony Baldry: I am not quite sure on what specific issue the hon. Lady wants us to show strong moral leadership. The fact is that we have a vibrant North sea oil industry in this country, so we all have an interest in investing in the petrochemical industry. We need to ensure that we work with other shareholders and institutions to try to ensure that the oil companies act as transparently as possible and move as fast as possible to a lower-carbon economy.

Mr Speaker: In simply adding to the very proper tributes that have been paid to the right hon. Gentleman, I would like to take the opportunity to say that he has been assiduous, accomplished and avuncular in equal measures, which has been hugely appreciated across the House. I think he is aware that I am visiting Bloxham school in his constituency tomorrow. I cannot claim that I am doing so specifically to pay tribute to him, but it will be a pleasure to be in his constituency. On behalf of the whole House, I would like to thank him for his 32 years’ service in this place.