HL Deb 26 May 2004 vol 661 cc57-8WS
Lord Sainsbury of Turville

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Patricia Hewitt, has made the following Statement.

I am today publishing a consultation document, Company Law: Flexibility and Accessibility, containing proposals designed to help ensure that company law remains up to date in future, and to make it clearer and more easily accessible in particular for smaller firms.

The proposals are for the introduction of new types of legislative power enabling company law in future to be amended by a special form of secondary legislation, making it easier to keep the legislation updated over time. The powers would also be used to rewrite relevant parts of the law to make it simpler to understand for all its users, particularly smaller firms and their advisers.

The use of the powers would be governed by stringent requirements for public consultation and for parliamentary scrutiny, and by criteria which would ensure that the needs of smaller users were at the heart of any reform proposals. Over time, I would look forward to being able to bring all the key operational provisions relating to smaller private companies together, clearly and logically, in one place.

The powers would he introduced as part of the major new Companies Bill which we are preparing for introduction as soon as parliamentary time allows. The Bill will implement the work of the independent company law review, which provided an authoritative assessment of the guiding principles for future reform, and my proposals proceed very much in that spirit.

The consultation period will close on 24 September 2004 to allow full time for consideration of these important proposals, and I have placed copies of the consultation document in the Libraries or both Houses.