Liberal Democrat Party Manifesto 2015: key points on corporate accountability

The full pdf document is available here. Key points:

Corporate reporting, company boards & pay

Extend existing reporting rules to establish consistent requirements on all large UK companies to report on the social, environmental and human rights impacts of their activities and those of their supply chains.

Work with regulatory bodies and financial investors to establish a global reporting standard for fossil fuel companies on the potential impact of future restrictions on carbon emissions on their asset base.

Ensure swift implementation of the new rules requiring companies with more than 250 employees to publish details of the different pay levels of men and women in their organisation. By 2020, extend transparency requirements to include publishing the number of people paid less than the Living Wage and the ratio between top and median pay. We will also consult on requirements for companies to conduct and publish a full equality pay review, and to consult staff on executive pay.

Establish an independent review to consult on how to set a fair Living Wage across all sectors. We will pay this Living Wage in all central government departments and their agencies from April 2016, and encourage other public sector employers to do likewise.

We will ensure employers cannot avoid giving their staff rights or paying the minimum wage by wrongly classifying them as workers or self-employed.

Continue the drive for diversity in business leadership, maintaining momentum towards at least 30% of board members being women and encouraging gender diversity among senior managers, too. Encourage businesses to ensure at least one place on their board is filled by a Black/ Asian/ Minority Ethnic candidate. Monitor and tackle the BAME pay gap.

We will change company law to permit a German-style two-tier board structure to include employees. Strengthen worker participation in decision-making, including staff representation on remuneration committees, and the right for employees who collectively own 5% of a company to be represented on the board.

Procurement & suppliers           

Use central government public procurement policy as a tool of local growth and community development, for example by purchasing from diverse sources and using local labour, goods and services, and encourage local government to do the same.

Continue to support the Groceries Code Adjudicator. We will allow the Adjudicator to use discretion when holding a supermarket responsible for the treatment of suppliers so they can help ensure farmers get a fair price.

Regulation

Reform and improve the Regulatory Policy Committee to reduce regulatory uncertainty and remove unnecessary business regulation. We understand that well-designed regulation, focused on outcomes rather than processes, has a vital role in creating markets and driving investment and will use it, in particular, to promote low-carbon and resource-efficient innovation.

Continue to reduce the burden of EU legislation on business by curbing unnecessary red tape.

Lobbying and Freedom of Information

Extend Freedom of Information laws to cover private companies delivering public services. End the Ministerial veto on release of information under the Freedom of Information Act

Strengthen and expand the lobbying register and prohibit MPs from accepting paid lobbying work.

International trade and development

Support negotiations at the World Trade Organisation as well as an ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the USA. We will only support an agreement that upholds EU standards of consumer, employee and environmental protection, and allows us to determine how NHS services are provided

Continue to promote private sector economic development, ensuring this benefits local people and small businesses not just multinational corporations. We will lead international action to ensure global companies pay fair taxes in the developing countries in which they operate, including tightening anti-tax haven rules and requiring large companies to publish their tax payments and profits for each country in which they operate.

Ensure UK and EU development aid, free trade and investment agreements support environmental goals and sustainable investment, including maintaining the UK’s International Climate Fund and supporting direct bilateral programmes with developing countries on climate change.

Legal aid; court and tribunal fees

Reduce pressure on the criminal Legal Aid budget by requiring company directors to take out insurance against prosecution for fraud and permitting the use of restrained assets to pay reasonable legal bills.

Carry out an immediate review of civil Legal Aid, judicial review and court fees, in consultation with the judiciary, to ensure Legal Aid is available to all those who need it, that those of modest means can bring applications for judicial review of allegedly unlawful government action and that court and tribunal fees will not put justice beyond the reach of those who seek it.

Improve the enforcement of employment rights, reviewing Employment Tribunal fees to ensure they are not a barrier.

Environmental standards & targets

Pass a Zero Carbon Britain Act to set a new legally binding target to bring net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050

Help incentivise sustainable behaviour by increasing the proportion of tax revenue accounted for by green taxes. Grow the market for green products and services with steadily higher green criteria in public procurement policy, extending procurement requirements more widely through the public sector including to the NHS and Academy schools. In particular we will deliver ambitious reductions in energy use.

Press for higher environmental standards for export credit agencies throughout the OECD.

We will replicate the success of the Office for Budget Responsibility with an Office for Environmental Responsibility scrutinising the government’s efforts to meet its environmental targets.

Tackle wildlife and environmental crime with increased enforcement of environmental regulations by all relevant authorities and higher penalties to ensure environmental crime is not a financial risk worth taking.