Some strange bedfellows

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HEALTH authorities are investing in tobacco companies, while churches and charities are buying into defence stocks, according to a new survey by the Ethical Investment Research Service (Eiris).

Eiris scrutinised shareholdings in three leading companies involved in controversial industries: Hanson (tobacco), ICI (chemicals), and GEC (defence). It discovered that Hanson's shareholders included Salisbury Health Authority, the United Bristol Healthcare NHS Trust, Greater Glasgow Health Board and Bristol & Weston Health Authority.

GEC's shareholders included Birmingham Roman Catholic Diocesan Trustees, the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church, Church Commissioners for England and the London Central Mosque Trust.

ICI was a share chosen by, among others, the British Dental Association, the British Heart Foundation and the British Red Cross Society.

Eiris sent questionnaires to 322 organisations with shares in the companies 1991 and 1992.