Lord Smith of Clifton, Lib Dem, protested the issue of excessive executive remuneration packages remained a ‘burning issue’ and demanded what hope ministers had that a scrutiny of annual general meeting action will ‘have British boardrooms quaking in their boots’.
Lord Borrie, Labour, challenged the government to accept a backbench amendment to the Companies Bill increasing the legal responsibility of shareholders above a minimum holding to determine executive remuneration packages.
And Lord Lea of Crondall, Labour, protested remuneration committees ‘give each other the top percentile of the best performing companies’ instead of following market forces.
Government spokesman Lord Triesman denied the government were delaying action and insisted the issue was one for companies and their shareholders but added at one point: ‘I fear that some remuneration committees appear to be guided not so much by the wisdom of Solomon as by the avarice of the Temple money lenders.’
But Lord March insisted the best people to decide whether payments were excessive were the shareholders and the board.
Hewitt earlier issued a written Commons statement in which she left open the possibility of future legislation but insisted a judgement should be reached after seeing what effect the requirement to report to shareholders on pay has in the coming round of annual general meetings.
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