If Sir Philip Green’s conduct at BHS is unacceptable what’s to be done about it?

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The Work and Pensions Committee of the House of Commons has said this morning that:

The truth is that a large proportion of those who have got rich or richer off the back of BHS are to blame. Sir Philip Green, Dominic Chappell and their respective directors, advisers and hangers-on are all culpable. The tragedy is that those who have lost out are the ordinary employees and pensioners. This is the unacceptable face of capitalism.

They are right, of course.

They are right to say Sir Philip Green and his family should now return funds he was paid by BHS whilst its pension scheme sank.

But some of their solutions are too timid. Asking for a review of the audits is not good enough: these audits were grossly deficient by not referring to the payment of dividends when there were no funds to pay them.

Asking for a review of the pension when the company collapsed is not good enough: that should have happened when the deficit was developing.

And saying that governance was deficient in a company set up through a tier of offshore structures that extracted value from the company at lowest possible tax cost at long term risk to others does nothing to address the point.

It was for this committee to say more than this one problem case has to be resolved by saying one man has a moral duty to act. It should have said what it expects of auditors and their regulators, what it expects of corporate behaviour when pension funds are in deficit and how company should be required to protect pension interests long before a situation like this could arise. And it should have suggested when, how and why the benefits of limited liability should be removed from those who have got rich whilst their companies have failed at cost to others.

Much will be made in the media of the sloganeering of this committee. But it should have done so much more, and what I have read of their report suggests they too have fallen short of the mark we and BHS pensioners might have expected of them.