Friday, April 09, 2010

Good stories in the wash up

This might have passed you by, but in the wash up - that wonderfully named time when the government haggles to get as much of its programme on the statute book before Parliament dissolves altogether - the vulture bill was passed.

Vulture funds - many UK based - are investment houses that buy up the debts of the most heavily-indebted poor countries, often for a few pennies, and then sue those countries for the payment of the full amount owed. This is capitalism red and tooth and claw, a montrous injsutice backed by UK courts, and it is wonderful that our Parliament has voted to protect the poor from the rapacious rich.

The law restricts the ability of these funds to sue poor nations in the UK courts and so we should no longer witness the spectacle of a fund succeeding in getting a British court to uphold its claim for $20m immediate payment from Liberia, one of the world's poorest countries, on a debt outsanding since the 1970s. Hopefully, it renders their 'investments' worthless.

The bill gets Royal Assent today and so becomes law. There is a sunset clause built in, meaning that it will have to renewed in a year's time. So we need to remain vigilant.

But it's a good day for the world's poorest people.

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