Skip to main content

Executive Pay

Volume 635: debated on Tuesday 30 January 2018

The Government will legislate to require quoted companies to publish and explain the ratio of their chief executive officer’s pay to the average pay of their UK employees. Companies will also have to provide a better explanation of how share price increases affect the value of complex, long-term incentive plans.

Does the Minister acknowledge that there is sufficient compelling evidence to conclude safely and beyond any reasonable doubt that collective bargaining significantly reduces income inequality?

The hon. Lady is absolutely right to raise the issue of collective bargaining and how that affects employee pay and the wider pay of executives. I should point out to her one interesting fact: the average FTSE 100 CEO’s pay leapt from £1 million to £4.3 million between 1998 and 2010, but CEOs’ pay fell by 17% in 2016. Interesting.

It would take the average person in Barnsley East more than 176 years to earn what the average FTSE CEO earns in 12 months. Does the Minister agree that that is a sign of grotesque inequality in the UK? What is he going to do about it?

What private companies pay their directors is ultimately a matter for their shareholders, but the new pay ratio disclosure requirements mean that we will give shareholders and other stakeholders important new information on how pay at the top of companies fits with wider workforce pay. Companies will be forced to explain and defend their pay ratios and account for changes to the ratio over time.

Does the Minister agree that Britain’s biggest broadcaster, the BBC, is setting an appalling example to the nation over executive pay in failing to ensure gender parity?

I assure my hon. Friend that we absolutely and completely agree with fair pay. It is unacceptable that women who are doing the same job as men receive less pay. That must change. The BBC must act.

Hardworking people on ordinary incomes are understandably angry at the way executive pay has skyrocketed at a time when ordinary wages have remained flat. When can we expect to see these regulations that the Minister is talking about on publication of pay ratios, and can he confirm that this requirement will be in place for companies by June, as promised?

I have to point out to the hon. Lady that she may have her figures wrong. CEO pay has fallen, not risen. This Government are keen to ensure that there is more accountability and transparency in relation to the pay of top executives. We want to give the shareholders of companies greater power and ensure that there is greater accountability to shareholders and to the workforce.

Since 2010, Carillion has paid out more than £500 million in dividends to shareholders while, over the same period, running up a pensions deficit of £587 million, a deficit that is now threatening the security of thousands of hardworking people. While those people suffer, former Carillion CEO Richard Howson was rewarded with a bonus package worth £1.5 million in 2016. Will the Government join me in condemning this scandal and work with the Labour party to end the failed model of outsourcing using shell companies and in condoning excessive pay, or will it be just business as usual?

Please allow me to assure the hon. Lady that any payments due to directors and executives of Carillion have been stopped; nobody is getting paid and nobody is getting executive bonuses. The moment that the insolvency happened, the Secretary of State wrote both to the Insolvency Service and the FRC to ensure that there was a thorough investigation of all payments to directors. If necessary, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Insolvency Service have the power to claw back all of those payments. I can assure her that we will be learning the lessons from the Carillion insolvency and ensuring that we do all we can to support businesses going forward.