§ 17. Mr. William Hamilton
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what progress has been made with the implementation of the proposals to ensure the provision of more information in annual reports of companies.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Trade (Mr. Michael Meacher)
The comments received on the proposals in the Green Paper "The Future of Company Reports" (Command 6888) are now being studied.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Has consideration been given to the CBI's public opposition to the proposals contained in the Green Paper? What response have the Government made to these proposals? Is my hon. Friend aware that the trade unions and. I believe, the country generally want to have much more information from companies than they are getting now? I should be glad to be assured that legislation will be introduced by the Government as soon as possible to implement their own proposals.
§ Mr. Meacher
There is no question but that more disclosure is necessary, and there has been widespread support for most of the proposals in the Green Paper. Though the CBI has expressed concern about certain points, it has given its support to, the work which is now being done on simplified accounts for shareholders and employees. It is our intention to go through the comments we have received in our consultations, and to prepare a Bill as quickly as possible.
§ Mr. Costain
Does not the hon. Gentleman appreciate that there is a danger in giving too much information which would be available to competitors, particularly foreign competitors? If disclosure were seen to be likely to affect employment in this country because 995 foreign competitors would be getting too much information, would not action he needed?
§ Mr. Meacher
Section 18 of the Employment Protection Act and Part IV of the Industry Act 1975 prevent information which is potentially of interest to competitors from being improperly disclosed, and certainly we would ensure that any such provisions were duplicated in this case.