Vultures bill passes second reading, but Tories slow progress
Update from WDM ally Jubilee Debt Campaign:
Jubilee Debt Campaign has welcomed the successful passage of the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill at its second reading in Parliament today, but the charity has expressed disappointment that the Conservative Party prevented the bill from taking a further step towards becoming law, by insisting it goes through full committee stage.
All parties expressed support for the second reading of the bill, proposed by Andrew Gwynne MP and introduced by Sally Keeble MP this morning, which would effectively prevent vulture funds making huge profits out of the poorest countries in the world.
But while Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs expressed unequivocal support, Conservative Treasury spokesman David Gauke admitted to outstanding concerns and said his party would not support the measure being rushed through the House. Campaigners fear this may mean the bill does not become law before the General Election. On being pushed by Liberal Democrat MP Andrew Stunell, Mr Gauke failed to give a commitment to tackling the issue should the Conservative Party form a government.
Nick Dearden, Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign said:
“We are delighted that the vultures bill attracted cross-party support, and we understand the desire of MPs to scrutinise the bill to make sure it is as effective as possible. But we are also concerned that the bill may now fail to become law through lack of time. We call on all political parties to ensure that this bill progresses as fast as possible through Parliament, and that all parties commit to introducing legislation if they form a government in a few months time.”
The Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill would force commercial creditors litigating against Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) on the basis of past debts to accept a HIPC-style write down – often accounting for as much as 90% of the face value of the debt.