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House of Commons Hansard
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Ethical Investment Policy
04 February 2016
Volume 605
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5. What recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Church Commissioners’ ethical investment policy. [903470]

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During 2015, the Church Commissioners’ ethical investment strategy won awards at the Portfolio institutional awards in the category of responsible investment. The commissioners have also had success in leading shareholder resolutions on climate change behaviour with BP and Shell, and they will continue to work with other institutional shareholders on filing similar resolutions at their annual general meetings.

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I thank the right hon. Lady for that full response, but is not the correct principle that the commissioners actively seek to shun investment in companies guilty of what the Chancellor calls “aggressive tax avoidance”?

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Yes. Indeed, it is just a year to the day since the Archbishop of Canterbury said that a good economy is based on

“the principle that you pay the tax where you earn the money. If you earn the money in a country, the revenue service of that country needs to get a fair share of what you have earned.”

I could not put it better myself.

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One of the ways in which the Church deploys its investments, ethical or otherwise, is in supporting schools across the country. Will my right hon. Friend use her offices to persuade the Church, and particularly certain dioceses, to take a more responsible and open-minded approach to joining academy groupings where some of their schools, particularly primary schools, are underperforming and need to change?

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The Church of England is the largest provider of education in this country, and it is co-operating with the Government in trying to address poor performance in schools. Eighty per cent. of Church of England schools are rated “good” or “outstanding”, but the Church recognises the need to work with schools where the performance is not as good as that. Multi-academy trusts present a great opportunity for successful Church of England schools to mentor and help with the raising of standards among those which find this more difficult.