An unlikely alliance on directors’ remuneration


Via Hansard, my unlikely alliance with Labour’s John McDonnell over the need for shareholders to be able to control directors’ remuneration:

Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con): As I listened to the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) speak to amendment 15, I thought that my ears were deceiving me because I felt so much sympathy for what he was saying. Indeed, he put me in mind of a book by a reformed Trotskyite, James Burnham, who predicted in “The Managerial Revolution” the system of capitalism—the set of structures—that we now recognise in publicly listed companies. My discomfort evaporated, however, when I realised that the hon. Gentleman was defending the interests of the owners of capital.

John McDonnell: Some of us are not completely reformed.

Steve Baker: In that case, I am delighted that we are on opposite sides of the Chamber.

It is strange that capitalism has come to this: that, nowadays, the owners of capital need to be defended by the House from their own directors. If I have understood the amendment correctly, it would mean that the change in the main rate for 2011 would not come into force until legislation had provided arrangements for shareholders to approve their directors’ remuneration. It is almost incredible that such an arrangement does not already exist.

We must reunite ownership control and the risk taken with capital, and I believe that the amendment goes to the heart of one of the problems of our capitalist system. I am not sure that it would achieve the aim that the hon. Gentleman has set out because it might not affect the rate for 2011, and I therefore cannot support it. Nevertheless, I think it is an extremely good idea, and I urge the Government to consider it.

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