Labour Party Manifesto 2017: key positions on corporate accountability

Labour’s 2017 manifesto advances many of the party’s 2015 manifesto pledges. These include: introducing a Living Wage; working with companies to build sustainable supply chains; reforming the UK takeover regime; addressing shareholder short-termism; and targeting tax avoidance.

Some new proposals include: collaborating with businesses to ensure they comply with Modern Slavery legislation and report on due diligence processes in supply chains; establishing a pay ratio cap; and amending the Companies Act so that directors owe a duty beyond shareholders, factoring in the interests of other stakeholders and the wider public.

A review of 2015 Manifesto pledges can be found here.

Corporate governance

Labour will amend company law so that directors owe a duty directly not only to shareholders, but to employees, customers, the environment and the wider public, and we will consult on bringing forward appropriate legislation within this Parliament.

Labour will amend the takeover regime to ensure that businesses identified as being systemically important’ have a clear plan in place to protect workers and pensioners when a company is taken over.

Labour will also legislate to reduce pay inequality by introducing an Excessive Pay Levy on companies with staff on very high pay.

Labour will learn from these experiences and bring key utilities back into public ownership to deliver lower prices, more accountability and a more sustainable economy.

Pay

Raise the Minimum Wage to the level of the Living Wage (expected to be at least £10 per hour by 2020) – for all workers aged 18 or over, so that work pays.

Roll out maximum pay ratios of 20:1 in the public sector and in companies bidding for public contracts – because it cannot be right that wages at the top keep rising while everyone else’s stagnates.

Tax

We believe in the social obligation to contribute to a fair taxation scheme for the common good. We will take on the social scourge of tax avoidance through our Tax Transparency and Enforcement Programme, and close down tax loopholes.

A Labour government will guarantee no rises in income tax for those earning below £80,000 a year, and no increases in personal National Insurance Contributions or the rate of VAT.

Our new settlement with business will ask large corporations to pay a little more while still keeping corporation tax among the lowest of the major developed economies.

We will protect small businesses by reintroducing the lower small profits rate of corporation tax.

Supply chains and procurement

Jobs in global supply chains can be of enormous importance to working people across the Global South, but human rights abuses and exploitation of lower environmental standards and workers’ rights are too common. Labour is committed to ensuring respect for human rights, workers’ rights and environmental sustainability in the operations of British businesses around the world, and we will work to tighten the rules governing corporate accountability for abuses in global supply chains.

Labour will work with business to ensure the provisions of the Modern Slavery Act are fully respected, including reporting on due diligence in supply chains.

Labour will take action across the areas we know are necessary for business and industry to grow:

  • Skills – by creating a National Education Service for England.
  • Infrastructure – by investing £250 billion over the next ten years.
  • Supply chains – by targeting government support where there are gaps.
  • Trade – by negotiating a new deal with Europe that puts jobs and the economy first.
  • Procurement – by requiring the best standards on government contracts.

Lobbying and Freedom of Information

We will safeguard our democracy by repealing the Lobbying Act, which has gagged charities, and introduce a tougher statutory register of lobbyists.

We will extend the Freedom of Information Act to private companies that run public services.

Access to justice

Enforce all workers’ rights to trade union representation at work – so that all workers can be supported when negotiating with their employer.

Labour will reverse the unfair employment tribunal fees which literally price people out of justice.

We will review the legal aid means tests, including the capital test for those on income-related benefits.

Labour will retain the Human Rights Act.

Brexit

Labour accepts the referendum result and a Labour government will put the national interest first. We will prioritise jobs and living standards, build a close new relationship with the EU, protect workers’ rights and environmental standards, provide certainty to EU nationals and give a meaningful role to Parliament throughout negotiations.

We will scrap the Conservatives’ Brexit White Paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union – which are essential for maintaining industries, jobs and businesses in Britain.