Military links listed

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The Independent Online
ALMOST half of Britain's 50 largest companies have supplied goods or services to military users - including the banks, Grand Metropolitan and Unilever.

A survey by the Ethical Investment Research Service (Eiris) found that 23 of the largest companies, and 442 of the 691 companies in the FT all-share index, had links ranging from Ministry of Defence contracts to producing nuclear weapons systems.

Peter Webster, executive secretary of Eiris, said military links were one of the prime concerns of ethical investors, vying for top place with the environment.

Grand Metropolitan, the food and drink group, is listed as having contracts worth more than pounds 5m from the MoD, while two Unilever subsidiaries - Lever Industrial and National Starch and Chemical - have supplied military users with adhesives, detergents and polishes.

Rank Organisation occurs in eight categories, including two relating to nuclear weapon systems.

Lloyds Bank, National Westminster, Barclays and HSBC Holdings - parent of Midland Bank - are included partly because of their lending but also because of services to defence exporters. Some also have shares in small, military-related companies.