Corporate Responsibility Bill debated in UK Parliament

The UK House of Commons is currently considering a bill to challenge the internationally preferred voluntary approach to CSR.

The UK Parliament's House of Commons is currently discussing a new bill, titled Corporate Responsibility (Environmental, Social and Financial Reporting), or "CORE Bill". The Bill, introduced by MP Linda Perham, is backed by organisations including Amnesty International, Friends of the Earth and UNISON, the trade union representing people who work in public services. The second reading of the bill has been scheduled for 14 November.

The CORE Bill would introduce the following key requirements on companies:

  • Mandatory reporting: companies with a turnover greater than 5 million pounds would be required to produce and publish reports on their economic, environmental and social impacts;
  • Stakeholder dialogue: companies would have to consult affected stakeholders before launching major projects;
  • Directors duties: directors would be required to better consider the impacts of their business on the environment and society;
  • Enforcement and transparency: the Bill would create a Standards Board to set standards, monitor and ensure the effective implementation of the above.

In her introductory speech in the House of Commons, MP Linda Perham noted that on the one hand, when companies behaved "badly", in ways that affected the richest and more powerful in society, there was a "clamour" for new rules and regulations. On the other hand, when company activities concern the least well off, the determination to act seems to be lacking. She concluded her speech by stating that "the Bill is bold; it would deliver measurable improvements to people's lives in Britain and abroad, and it would challenge other nations to follow our lead."

At EU level, no legal obligations were proposed in the Commission Communication published on 2 July (see also

EURACTIV, 4 July 2002). The Communication points out that CSR by definition is about companies taking action beyond their legal obligations.

 

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