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Corporate Governance

Volume 628: debated on Tuesday 12 September 2017

One of Britain’s greatest assets in competing in the global economy is our reputation for being a dependable place in which to do business. In our response to the recent Green Paper on corporate governance, we set out plans to build on those strengths through greater transparency and accountability to shareholders, employees and suppliers, and others with an interest in the long-term success of companies.

A myopic focus on short-term profit and share price in many British boardrooms damages the UK economy, leading to chronically low rates of business investment and the treatment of workers as units of production rather than human beings. Some respondents to the Green Paper suggested that long-term investors should be rewarded with stronger shareholder voting rights. Can the Secretary of State explain why the Government rejected that interesting proposal?

We consulted widely on the Green Paper, and the set of reforms that we are making has enjoyed broad support. We are proposing to extend the holding periods for long-term share incentives from three years to five years. I think the hon. Lady played some part in the introduction of the three-year periods, and I hope that she will welcome the extension. We are also making it a more explicit requirement of boards, including boards of directors, to reflect in their reports and accounts what they are doing for a wider range of stakeholders, not just the short-term issues. I hope the hon. Lady will welcome that as well.