HL Deb 04 March 1998 vol 586 c165WA
Baroness Pitkeathley

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have for the reform of company law. [HL900]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury)

My right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade is today publishing a consultation paper,Modern Company Law for a Competitive Economy. The paper sets out her plans for a major review of company law and its relationship with corporate governance codes. The review will focus on the Companies Act 1985. Insolvency and Financial Services legislation will not in general fall within its scope.

The review is an important part of the Government's strategy to modernise the nation. While much of the relevant statute has stood the test of time, the review will ensure that company law statute can continue to underpin the growth, competitiveness and accountability of British companies into the 21st Century. It will, for example, consider whether, taking account of partnership law and the proposed Limited Liability Partnership, business has the right choice of legislative vehicles for growth. It will address the complexity of the current legislation, and ensure a structure that is clear to users; and it will seek a flexible framework of regulation which is cost effective for companies, and fair to all interests.

The review will be a considered, consultative and long-term process. A Steering Group, chaired by the Department of Trade and Industry, will manage the review process; and there will be a widely-based consultative committee to ensure active representation of all wider interests. Full public consultation will continue at the end of this year with the first report of a first expert working group, and will continue throughout the process.

The review will culminate in the publication of a White Paper on proposed company law reforms, towards the end of this Parliament.