Business Comment: Sir Ronnie rides into town firing blanks
Wednesday 06 August 1997
Perhaps Sir Ronnie Hampel had this form of summary justice in mind when his corporate governance bandwagon rolled into town yesterday firing a mixture of blanks and bland truisms.
Sir Ronnie is correct that no amount of box ticking can ever eradicate the lazy, unscrupulous or just plain bent. All of which makes endless lists of prescriptive rules something to comply with on paper and then promptly ignore in practice.
But he is even more accurate in his candid reflection that the Hampel Committee on Corporate Governance might never have been necessary.
Reading through the 40-odd pages of its preliminary report it is easy to see his point of view. Sir Richard Greenbury, who was the last man at he controls, advised Ronnie not to accept the job and he didn't let him down. For once the advance publicity was no exaggeration.
The committee started from the premise that good corporate governance is all about adopting broad principles and then applying them flexibly and with common sense to individual circumstances. Over 140 written submissions and 200 discussions later it never really gets very much further. The list of 50 conclusions and recommendations boils down to the incontrovertible and uncontroversial conclusion that businesses are better run when equipped with informed, independent-minded and qualified directors, shareholders and auditors.
Small wonder that the plaudits flowed in thick and fast from a grateful business community confronted with nothing more exacting than the odd recommendation on the correct proportion of non-execs a board should sport and handy tips for goodhousekeeping at the agm.
Of course, it is not just businessmen who will be relieved. The last thing New Labour wanted was a report that actually required it to legislate. Corporate profligacy was a perfect stick with which to beat the Tories while in opposition. In office it quickly becomes a minefield into which only the bombproof should venture. Remember what happened to Ken Clarke when he tried to scrap tax breaks on share options for Asda check out staff?
The lesson has not been lost on Labour. Suddenly it has a lot of better things to do than forcing companies to obtain shareholder approval for executive pay packages.
Sir Ronnie has wisely not left any hostages to fortune. Recommendation 51 does not appear in Sir Ronnie's report but what it says is that his committee should be the last committee on corporate governance. That is one box everyone will tick.
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 35,000 walrus gather ashore on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered
Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
Cheryl Cole officially the 'most dangerous celebrity' on the internet
Ebola virus in the US: What are the symptoms, what is it and is there a cure?
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Benefits 'smart cards' plan revealed by Iain Duncan Smith to stop claimants spending welfare money on alcohol
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...
NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...
£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...
Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...