Public Limited Companies (Financial Regulation)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:22 pm on 13th March 2003.

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Photo of Mr Howard Flight Mr Howard Flight Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 4:22 pm, 13th March 2003

I am surprised that a Member of Parliament of the hon. Gentleman's intelligence should not have heard what I said. My point was that dealing with the issuing of shares or options for discount in the profit and loss account creates a false profit figure, because profits go up and down inversely to share prices. That is unhelpful to a general shareholder because it distorts the profit record. What a shareholder needs to know, resulting from option schemes and even employee-wide share schemes, is how much his shareholding will be diluted if that option is exercised and when the general employees take up their share options. The task of explaining and setting out the dilution factor requires some space; indeed, that explanation can only be set out as a note to the accounts. That is a pretty straightforward common-sense issue, and the matter is entirely different from the accounting principles, for which Sir John Bourn is responsible, that apply to how public sector bodies' debts should be treated within the national accounts.