HC Deb 15 March 2002 vol 381 cc1258-9W
Linda Gilroy

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what actions she has taken following the publication of the Companies Act Inspectors' report into Mirror Group Newspapers plc on 30 March 2001. [44031]

Ms Hewitt

Independent inspectors were appointed under Companies Act powers to investigate and report on the affairs and membership of Mirror Group Newspapers plc. They were asked to look, in particular, at the flotation of Mirror Group Newspapers on 30 April 1991.

Following receipt of the report, the DTI's Companies Investigation Branch sought legal advice on whether disqualification proceedings should be instigated under the Company Directors Disqualification Act against any of those involved.

After careful consideration of advice from leading Counsel, officials have recommended, and I have agreed, not to institute disqualification proceedings.

Important lessons have been learnt from the Mirror Group Newspapers affair and, as the inspectors themselves noted, a number of important changes were made prior to their final report. The report made a number of further recommendations which have all been passed for consideration to the different Departmental bodies and regulators that hold responsibility in these areas.

As the inspectors suggested, the Company Law Review considered a number of issues and the Government will be announcing their response to these and the rest of the Review's recommendations in due course. I have recently announced the setting up of a group jointly with the Treasury and including other regulators to oversee and co-ordinate the response in the UK to auditing and accounting issues raised by the collapse of Enron. This work is also relevant to the concerns expressed by the inspectors on the independence of auditors. I have also announced an independent review of the role and effectiveness of non-executive directors in the UK. The review will report jointly to me and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Where particular recommendations are the prime responsibility of other Departments and regulatory authorities I am liaising with these other bodies and will further inform the House in due course.