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Local Authorities have over £700m in Arms Companies

Local authorities in Britain hold £723m of investments in the world\'s largest arms companies, according to figures released under the Freedom of Info rmation Act. The Campaign Against the Arms Trade found that 67 of Britain\'s 99 council pension funds invest nearly £244m in BAE Systems, the UK\'s largest arms company. One in three council pension funds help to finance the manufacture of nuclear weapons through investments in Lockheed Martin, the world\'s largest arms company,which manufactures Trident nuclear missiles for the US and Britain and is a contractor at the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment, which produces and maintains the UK\'s nuclear warheads. The study found that 33 councils hold investments worth £33m in Halliburton, the US military services conglomerate whose subsidiaries in Iraq are embroiled in allegations of overpricing and faulty accounting. Campaigners opposed to the arms trade say the study raises serious questions about the ethical values and democratic oversight of local authorities\' investments, largely made without the consideration of voters and council employees. Mike Kavanagh, who has been pressing Greater Manchester pension fund to invest ethically, said: \"The study destroys the argument that such council investments are supporting vital British industry: we now know that UK councils invest indiscriminately, including over £120m invested in US arms companies.\" He added: \"Councils also argue that selling these shares would make their investments less profitable. Yet research by Deutsche Bank last year found that ethically invested funds actually outperformed most other funds.\" Scottish Council Investments