There is to be a General Election on the 8th June in case you have not heard. That has the unfortunate consequence on freezing Government business, with the prospect of changes of Ministers thereafter. Any formal consultations – for example on improved Corporate Governance and remuneration restraints – will be deferred. So the key question now is what would we like to see in the manifestos of the leading political parties? Here’s my list:
- A commitment to ensure that private shareholders in nominee accounts are fully enfranchised by changes to the Companies Act and a low cost “name on register” system mandated to be provided by all brokers with specific warnings about nominee accounts.
- The mandating of Shareholder Committees to improve Corporate Governance and ensure there is more restraint on pay. In effect return some more control on some matters to the owners of public companies, namely the shareholders.
- To cancel the proposed changes to dividend taxation and stop the double taxation of company profits (i.e. revert to the tax credit system) and properly index link capital gains taxes.
- To stop the proposed changes to Probate Charges so they more properly reflect the service being provided. It should not be turned into a tax, i.e. a fund raising measure to subsidise other Government legal services as recently proposed.
- To reform the insolvency rules so as to stop the abuses arising from Pre-Pack Administrations and ensure administrations are not just about protecting the interests of bankers.
- To improve the oversight of the auditing profession and strengthen the FCA and SFO so that frauds and false accounting are vigorously pursued. To ensure that companies and their directors are also accountable to shareholders by reform of the Companies Act and removing the Caparo judgement from law.
Now that would be a manifesto that would get my support, and no doubt that of many other people. It is of course very much the manifesto adopted by ShareSoc when it was set up – see https://www.sharesoc.org/ShareSoc%20Manifesto.pdf, and other issues have been covered by our campaigns on Shareholder Rights, Remuneration and Shareholder Committees. But progress on achieving our aims do date has been slow. Here’s a good opportunity to move them along.