Yorkshire MP funded by Ashcroft's company 'will wreck anti-poverty bill'

By staff writers
March 11, 2010

Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley in Yorkshire has tabled a 'wrecking' amendment to the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill which campaigners say threatens to derail the proposed legislation when it comes up for its Third Reading in Parliament tomorrow.

The bill aims to outlaw 'vulture funds' - investment companies which buy up defaulted Third World debt and sue countries for immediate repayment. The practice has cost the poorest countries in the world over a billion dollars in recent years.

The MP, who has a marginal seat, has previously recorded in the Register of Member's Interests, donations to his constituency party from Bearwood Corporate Services Ltd, a company now controlled by the Tory non-dom donor, Lord Ashcroft.

Documents seen by The Times last week suggested Lord Ashcroft had been in control of Bearwood Corporate Services for several years.

The Debt Relief Bill is a Private Member's Bill tabled by Andrew Gwynne MP. It was due to receive its Third Reading in the House of Commons tomorrow (12 March) - the last stage before it goes for discussion in the House of Lords.

However, Mr Davies' amendment threatens the future of the bill, meaning that the entire bill falls through lack of time.

Campaigners from Jubilee Debt Campaign have expressed serious disappointment over Philip Davies' move. They say that he could have raised these concerns at an earlier stage but failed to turn up to the Second Reading or to serve at the committee stage, at which a similar amendment was discussed and dismissed.

Sally Keeble MP, who is proposing the bill on behalf of Mr Gwynne, said: "This is a wrecking amendment by someone who has form in opposing progressive legislation. This bill has all-party agreement, concessions have been made to ensure this, and efforts to derail it at this stage are completely deplorable.

"This legislation would set a marker for ensuring a more responsible approach to managing developing country debt and regulating the rogue outriders of the financial services industry."

Nick Dearden, Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign said: "This is clearly an attempt to get this bill thrown out by Mr Davies. Rather than take part in a debate to discuss concerns, Mr Davies is using Parliamentary procedure to get a bill thrown out that the vast majority of MPs have signed up to. It's appalling behaviour and will mean many of the poorest countries in the world will continue suffering at the hands of reckless and unethical investors."

In October 2006, after an act of vandalism initially alleged to have been perpetrated by Muslims, The Sun quoted Davies as saying "if there’s anybody who should f*** off it’s the Muslims who do this sort of thing."

It was later exposed by, among others, The Independent that the incident never involved Muslims. The Sun was forced to issue an apology four months later. Davies, however, has not apologised for his comments.

In 2007 the Bradford Telegraph and Argus reported that Davies urged Muslims in the whole country to fly the Union flag on mosques to show their unity and commitment to Britain.

Last year, John Bercow MP called Philip Davies, a "troglodyte" for his opposition to debating the Equalities Bill, the effect of the recession on women and International Women’s Day.

Davies is treasurer of the All Party Parliamentary Flag Group and has called for complete withdrawal from the European Union.


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