HL Deb 17 March 2005 vol 670 cc69-70WS
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Ms Hewitt) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce that we are today publishing a White Paper setting out proposals for a Company Law Reform Bill.

These proposals result from a comprehensive review of company law, which we initiated in 1998. In 2001 we received the final report from the Company Law Review, an independent group of experts, practitioners and business people. The White Paper also takes account of international and other developments. We are very grateful for the input of a wide range of interested parties into the proposals we are bringing forward today.

The White Paper sets out a range of measures designed to further four crucial objectives: to enhance shareholder engagement and a long term investment culture; to ensure better regulation and a "think small first" approach; to make it easier to set up and run a company; and to provide flexibility for the future.

The proposals are part of a wider programme of action to facilitate enterprise, encourage investment and promote long-term company performance. We brought forward legislation to strengthen regulation of the accounting and audit profession and to allow a new type of community enterprise company. We have laid draft regulations for quoted companies to produce an operating and financial review and we have introduced greater transparency by quoted companies on directors' remuneration. We have taken smaller companies out of the need for an audit. We have also worked with market participants to strengthen corporate governance and shareholder engagement.

The measures set out in the White Paper represent a significant step forward in ensuring that our law remains up to date, flexible, and accessible for all those who use it. By making company law better fitted to today's realities, the measures should create improved performance across the economy as a whole. They could also produce cost savings for business of some £250 million a year. The proposals will help to ensure that Britain remains one of the best places in the world to set up and run a business.