The UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) is one of the supporting organisations to a joint letter just issued to the NatWest / Royal Bank of Scotland Group calling for it to amend its policies around supporting investments to companies involved in the production of nuclear weapons.
The Nobel Peace Laureate group the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the ‘Don’t Bank on the Bomb’ Scotland group, and the UK Nuclear Weapons Financing Research Group – all of which NFLA is an active supporting partner with – have released a letter calling on NatWest Group (formerly known as RBS Group) to comprehensively exclude nuclear weapons from investment. The letter has been co-signed by senior NFLA members on behalf of the organisation. (1)
In a joint op-ed in today’s Herald newspaper, ICAN CEO Beatrice Fihn and Medact Scotland’s Dr Michael Orgel (on behalf of the supporting groups) noted:
“The Scots who have taken a stand against nuclear weapons may not be aware how their personal savings and pension contributions are contributing to Trident renewal, and to other nuclear weapons programmes. It is our money – our savings, our pension funds – that finance the companies making nuclear weapons that threaten our planet. The 19 million NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank customers probably don’t know that the group lent £1.6 billion to 11 companies involved in the French, British and American nuclear arsenals.” (2)
The editorial notes that the NatWest group is updating its investment policies and argues now is an excellent time to make sure no companies involved in any nuclear weapon programmes can borrow money from them in the future.
The joint letter is supported by senjor representatives of the Church of Scotland, numerous Scottish trade union councils, unions like Unison, and dozens of civil society groups such as Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Friends of the Earth and CND. NFLA Scotland and NFLA UK & Ireland Steering Committee Chairs are also amongst the signatories.
The editorial concludes by saying:
“Prosperity is not bought by nuclear bombs, nor by spending our money on weapons that are outlawed. NatWest has the chance to take concrete steps toward joining the Scottish people in building a responsible and sustainable future with investments in products and communities that build up our world, and avoiding weapons that risk ending it.”
NFLA fully support this initiative. It comes at a time when the UK Government has announced an aggressive new foreign and defence policy that includes increasing the cap of Trident missiles. The United Nations Secretary General, the Mayor of Hiroshima and a large group of foreign governments and civil society groups have been critical on this unilateral change to UK nuclear weapons policy.
An ongoing debate is taking place on the financial investments that assist companies involved in the production of nuclear weapons. In Scotland, five councils including Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire, Midlothian, East Ayrshire and Inverclyde have passed resolutions calling on their relevant Council Pension Funds to divest from funds in nuclear weapons and arms producers. NFLA is aware further Councils will follow their lead.
NFLA Scotland Convener, Councillor Feargal Dalton, said:
“I applaud this joint letter calling on the NatWest group to change policies that are currently providing considerable funds to companies involved in the nuclear weapon process. That it has received such a wide level of support from faith communities, trade unions, NFLA and civil society is a clear signal that now is the time for financial institutions to take account of changes in international disarmament law, such as with the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Public opinion strongly supports multilateral nuclear disarmament. NFLA calls on big finance to take full account of it and make ethical changes to their lending policies.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 07771 930196.
Notes to Editors:
(1) See ICAN page:
(2) Op-ed, The Herald, 30th March 2021