I move amendment No. 242:
In page 148, subsection (1), lines 9 and 10, to delete "on a continuous and consistent basis".
These are amendments to section 198 which relate to the obligation that is placed on accountants and auditors to keep the accounts of a company on a continuous and consistent basis so that, at any time, the financial position of the company can be determined accurately. We are proposing here to remove the reference to "on a continuous and consistent basis" which would mean that the accounts would have to be kept essentially as they are at the moment — annually rather than being constantly updated. I know that from the point of view of company supervision it would be desirable that you should know exactly where you stand at any given time. I know from my own experience in running a very small business, that if I were to try to know exactly where I stood every week it would not be possible. It is only when you sit down and analyse your assets and liabilities — as you do normally each year when you are preparing your accounts — that you can answer the sort of questions that the Minister wants answered on a consistent basis at any time under section 198. If you require every company to have the books up to date all the time that means that they are going to have to spend a lot more money on accountants. The more money they spend on accountants, the more their customers are going to have to pay for what they buy from them. The more customers have to pay, the more inflation goes up and the more costs go up, and the more we become uncompetitive. I think we should have the minimum regulation necessary to achieve our objectives, not the maximum regulation necessary. In section 198 there is a sort of officious over-regulation and over-exacting provisions. I know that they can be justified and will be justified but that does not mean that they are necessary.