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12 April 2017


Westminster Update

From Rome to Leeds, CBI engages with business leaders to discuss crucial topics as well as responding to the BEIS select committee report on corporate governance

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On 31st March, CBI deputy director general Josh Hardie participated in a B7 event in Rome, together with representatives from the leading business federations from the other G7 nations.  In the B7 declaration, which the business leaders presented to Italian Prime Minister Antonio Gentiloni, leaders reaffirmed their commitment to supporting free and fair trade and the need for inclusive economic growth based on innovation, sustainability, rule of law, market access and fair competition. 

Moreover, B7 leaders called on all G7 leaders to resist protectionism and not to abandon their leading role in establishing a global playing level field for free and fair trade based on shared values. 

In his address to other B7 leaders, Josh underlined the CBI’s support for the B7 declaration but stressed the important role business has to play in addressing the inequalities in our societies and the need for regulatory reform to keep up with the speed of change.

Back in the UK, CBI North East, were delighted to welcome back CBI President Paul Drechsler to the region last week to meet with business leaders and discuss crucial topics ranging from Innovation, Industrial Strategy, Regional Growth and the importance of leadership both in business and education.

CBI members from across the North met with the BEIS Under Secretary of State, Lord Prior in Leeds to discuss Industrial Strategy, Regional Growth and Brexit as part of the Business North event programme. Key points raised included the importance of east- west transpennine connectivity and improving northern educational attainment as drivers of northern productivity.

In other Westminster news, the CBI responded to the BEIS Select Committee which published its report on corporate governance last week. The report rightly recognises that the UK’s corporate governance system is starting from a position of strength, and several recommendations echoed key messages from the CBI’s response, including a recommendation not to pursue  annual binding votes on pay or mandating workers on boards. Other headline proposals from the Committee included requiring the publication of pay ratios and scrapping long-term incentive plans. Responding in the media and in an interview with Mark Kleinman, Carolyn emphasised that pay ratios must include context to be meaningful and while complexity remains a problem with long-term incentive plans – banning them outright would reduce flexibility for companies to design incentives that genuinely align with performance.

Finally, Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI spoke at the ‘Brexit and Beyond’ FT Summit Panel on 4th April. The event included a series of panels with the likes of the Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Dr Ruth McKernan CBE, Chief Executive of Innovate UK and Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, former Deputy Prime Minister speaking throughout the day.  Carolyn highlighted that business wants a good deal from negotiations and that the CBI are optimistic that the UK will be achieve one. She also emphasised that the negotiations need real momentum and some important early wins such as guaranteeing the right to remain for EU citizens and UK nationals in Europe, an implementation period to rule out cliff-edges for firms on both sides of the Channel and discussions about new trading arrangements taking place at the same time as negotiating the UK's exit from the EU.

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