HC Deb 25 February 2003 vol 400 c442W
Mr. Prisk

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) what remit the Shareholder Executive Unit will have; [991141]

(2) what (a) organisational and (b) employment plans his Department has for managing government shareholdings in (i) the Royal Mail, (ii) the Royal Mint and (iii) British Nuclear Fuels; and what estimates have been made of the cost of such plans. [99143]

Mr. Alexander

The remit of the Shareholder Executive will be to work with Government Departments to improve their performance as a shareholder in a range of Government shareholdings in public and private sector companies as well as Government's more commercial trading funds. The Shareholder Executive will meet this remit in a number of ways. It will: scrutinise departmental shareholder resource requirements and assist in improving department's capabilities; help departments define their relationship with each company; set best practice standards and procedures for departments in their role as shareholder; and help departments distinguish and articulate long-term commercial and policy objectives for each shareholding. The Shareholder Executive will also become Government's centre of corporate finance and governance expertise, advising departments on shareholder-related management, corporate governance and finance issues as well as wider corporate finance and other industrial issues that arise from time to time.

The Cabinet Office is putting in place arrangements to enable the Shareholder Executive to become operational as soon as possible. An open competition is under way for the recruitment of a Chief Executive, who will be accountable directly to Lord Macdonald and the Cabinet Secretary for the performance of the Shareholder Executive. In due course, between 10 and 15 people drawn from Government Departments and the private sector will be recruited to support the Chief Executive in delivering the Shareholder Executive's remit. The costs of running the Shareholder Executive are likely to be modest relative to the potential benefits arising from improved shareholder performance.