Regulation – Lay majorities in new regime

The government has stuck to its guns and imposed a non-accountant majority on the profession’s regulatory bodies in a move that some fear could discourage companies from listing in the UK.

Last week’s decision by trade minister Ian McCartney divided the profession.

Deloitte & Touche technical audit partner Martyn Jones said: ‘There is a need to ensure there is a level playing field. Ultimately, audit is seen by businesses as a form of red tape. If the regime becomes overloaded, people could decide to use corporate vehicles in other countries.’

But other Big Five partners disagreed, arguing that non-accountant members would be drawn from business, and would not therefore want to impose further burdens on industry.

Chris Swinson, English ICA president, welcomed the government’s decision but expressed disappointment at the non-accountant majority.

He said the risk of Britain becoming an unattractive base was ‘remote’, but added: ‘The DTI would be unhappy with the prospect of companies being forced outside the UK.’

Analysis, p6; Leader p16.

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