Public Limited Companies (Financial Regulation)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 13th March 2003.

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Photo of John McFall John McFall Chair, Treasury Committee 2:30 pm, 13th March 2003

I could not agree more with my hon. Friend, and his contribution leads me on to the next part of my speech. Last year more than 130 FTSE 100 directors were paid more than £1 million. The average chief executive salary was £933,000 in 2001. Chief executives earn 15 to 20 times more than a Member of Parliament and 10 times more than the Prime Minister—and they do not want non-executive directors to talk to their shareholders in case it undermines them. If Members of Parliament could prevent people from talking to us and complaining when we go back to our constituencies, what a lovely life it would be.

When we write to chief executives—as I have done over the past few weeks—we cannot reach them. I said to my secretary, "Could you ask for the Pope's telephone number?"—we might have had a better chance of getting that than the number of a chief executive. They live in fairyland, and they must be taken out of it. We must get them out of "Sesame Street" and into "Westminster Street" and the high street.