The deadline for compliance with the recommendations of the Cadbury committee has passed and the annual reports of almost all of Britain's larger plcs now dutifully contain hymns to their own observance. Descend a little further down the corporate scale and there are rumblings of discontent. Take, for example, the report and accounts of Total Systems plc, the London-based supplier of computer software (turnover £2.9 million). The response to Cadbury is decidedly lukewarm. A statement by the chairman, Terry Bourne, cites the 'onerous additional burden' the code places on smaller companies and urges for 'more detailed consideration' of the level at which the proposals need not be adopted. 'It does seem like overkill,' reflects Bourne. He points to the anomaly of a company with just four directors having to appoint an audit committee, a remuneration committee and a non-executive director. 'The principles behind the code are to be applauded but their application leaves us wondering how we're going to pay for them,' he adds. 'Every penny spent on governance is one less spent on developing products, marketing and exporting.' Bourne is by no means alone in his views and has discussed the issues with many of like mind. Over the next few months more will no doubt add their voice to his.
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