Company Law Reform Bill [HL]
Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts (Shadow Minister, Home Affairs; Conservative)
My Lords, I am very disappointed by the Minister's response, although I congratulate him on having dug up GlaxoSmithKline and BAE Systems, which are two important examples. I do not think that he should drag the nominee issue into this. This is quite different. The nominee issue was about empowering people to exercise their votes. This is about how their votes will be cast.
Frankly, there are probably a couple of cases, but the reality is that now, if institutional shareholders wished to obtain an independent poll, it would be an extremely brave company that said that it did not want an independent assessment of a poll. If a group of institutions said that they wanted it independently assessed, the company would say fine, because the damage to its reputation and its positioning in the City would be so great as to be incalculable if it did not agree.
We have here a huge piece of legislation: 10 clauses and five pages, which could be used by people such as the GlaxoSmithKline animal rights activists to cause a great deal of trouble and expense for investing companies. I do not think that the minor trouble that the Minister has managed to identify justifies the insertion of 10 clauses. I seek to test the opinion of the House.