Discretionary Share Option Schemes in the Privatised Utilities

Part of New clause 1 – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 3rd April 1995.

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Photo of Ian Pearson Ian Pearson , Dudley West 6:30 pm, 3rd April 1995

I am well aware of ethical investment trusts and I have been pleased to note that their share fund performance has in many instances outperformed those of unit trusts that invest in a broader spectrum of companies without imposing those narrow criteria. I do not think that the hon. Member for Beaconsfield is seriously suggesting that shareholder pressure can operate in a broader sense against executive share option schemes, other than in those limited ethical considerations.

The simple fact is that a report is needed badly to investigate why directors of privatised utilities need executive share options at extremely lucrative levels to do what they should be doing anyway—acting in the best interests of their company—and why, as my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Stevenson) said, it can be right and reasonable that a director needs a £700,000 package to make him improve his performance when his staff are expected to accept a 3 per cent. wage cut to encourage them to increase their performance. That cannot be right.