Editorial team AccountingWEB.co.uk
Share this content

Lord Sikka has a new platform to annoy accountants

As accountancy gadfly Prem Sikka gave his maiden speech to the House of Lords this week, AccountingWEB editor John Stokdyk welcomes a new voice to the political debate.

29th Oct 2020
Editorial team AccountingWEB.co.uk
Share this content
Lord Sikka gives maiden speech to the House of Lords
UK Parliament_Lords_wikipediaCC

The accounting academic formerly known as Prem Sikka gave his maiden speech to fellow peers as Lord Sikka this week.

A longstanding critic of the profession’s misdeeds and co-author of a library of monographs with the likes of Austin Mitchell and Jim Cousins, Lord Sikka has taken the Labour whip in the House of Lords.

Sikka’s elevation to the Lords by Boris Johnson’s government – most likely at the opposition’s suggestion - is one of those mysterious quirks of the honours system. In this case, giving him a platform that is protected by parliamentary privilege may cause some consternation among the great and good of the accountancy profession.

“My research has often focused on what I call the dark side of capitalism. For example, the UK has the highest number of qualified accountants per capita in the world, but this huge social investment has not really given us good corporate governance, reliable financial reports or even honest audits,” he said during a Lords debate on Tuesday afternoon.

He told the story of his arrival in the UK in 1966 and how he had left school two years later with no qualifications. While studying on the side while he worked, Sikka gained an accountancy qualification along with the full set of BA (social sciences), MSc and PhD (both accounting).

“I am a person from a working-class background, somewhat overawed at being here, and I wondered what on earth my objectives should be,” he continued. “I think there are really only two: to increase people’s prosperity and people’s happiness—there can be no other objective. However, in a country where 14m people live below the poverty line, it seems that both happiness and prosperity are in short supply.”

Fleshing out his agenda, Sikka touched on several issues he has studied before, including financial services mis-selling scandals, interest rate rigging and the UK’s “rampant tax avoidance industry”.

No doubt we will be hearing a lot more from him on these subjects in the years to come. While he’s likely to annoy a lot of people in the City of London, he will certainly bring a perspective on accountancy and finance that hasn’t been aired in the House of Lords before.

From an editorial point of view, we at AccountingWEB look forward to hearing more from Prem, sorry, Lord Sikka soon.

Replies (6)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

avatar
By Justin Bryant
29th Oct 2020 13:59

Never heard of him, but by the look of things he's trying to compete with Murphy Richards. https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2020...

Thanks (1)
Chris M
By mr. mischief
29th Oct 2020 14:02

No-one can really argue with what he says. From qualifying in 1991, I formed the view that the dodgiest accountants in the land are the ones who run the profession. Nothing I have seen since has altered that view, if anything it's been reinforced by the way the profesison has been run.

Thanks (1)
Replying to mr. mischief:
avatar
By thomas34
29th Oct 2020 15:40

Agree and whilst I would never agree with Austin Mitchell's politics he was always a lone voice in Parliament in taking our profession to task (rightly). Prem Sikka likewise was always standing up to the professional bodies. In my opinion the ICAEW is little more than a trade body whose survival depends upon its members' subscriptions and income from fines. I would love in my lifetime to see the Companies Act link between audit and such bodies be severed in favour of an independent audit regulatory body.

Thanks (0)
Replying to mr. mischief:
avatar
By Justin Bryant
30th Oct 2020 09:21

I think that's just due to the usual Mason/City reasons. They're not really malicious or anything like that with their funny handshakes, aprons and so on.

Thanks (0)
bike
By FirstTab
30th Oct 2020 09:54

Fantastic news. Congratulations to Lord Sikka.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By ikh
30th Oct 2020 13:32

Congratulations to Lord Sikka. As a graduate from North East London Polytechnic a while ago now, as you may have guessed, the 'Lord' was then a great proponent as to why, what and wherefore accounts should be used for to us undergraduates. Since graduation days, the time demands have sometimes occluded this question, but fortunately we have had Lord Sikka to 'bang the drum' via media outlets. He now has a more elevated platform from which to broadcast.

Thanks (1)