10 AUGUST 1985, Page 18

Serve us wrong

IT SERVES the pension funds right. How it serves their beneficiaries, actual and prospective, those for whom they manage their £100,000-odd million of money that is another and sadder story. The story was told in the snap reaction to Labour's plans for bringing back overseas invest- ment: a threat to the villa on the Algarve. Holiday houses in sunnier countries are not the most productive assets in the British- owned international portfolio, but they are the closest to the hearts of their owners; who at least wonder, once a week, whether anyone has bothered to water the gera- niums. Whether IBM or Mitsubishi water their geraniums worries them less often. It should worry them, for most people have far more at stake in overseas stocks than they have in overseas houses, but it is the funds which own IBM and Mitsubishi. The beneficiaries are unlikely to have any more influence over the investment than they have over their right to join the fund or to leave it. They do not even own their share of their fund, and if it shows a surplus (as many do), there is nothing to say that they will get it. We shall now see whether it worries them to think that their funds' money may be invested, not by the normal criteria of investment, but to serve the purposes of the government of the day.