Thursday, October 23, 2008

It would rather not say …

You get a "feel" for parliamentary written questions, as to whether the government wants to answer or not. If it is something it is happy to reveal, you usually get a very full answer and sometimes more information than you asked for.

Terse answers, grudgingly giving you the minimum information sufficient to qualify as an answer but no more, thus tell you a great deal. This one, therefore, speaks volumes:

Ann Winterton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the UK may withdraw unilaterally from the Mark to Market rules under European Union legislation. [226867]

Ian Pearson: UK groups are required to use International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), including those relating to valuation, when preparing their accounts. IFRS are set by the International Accounting Standards Board and adopted for use inside the EU under the relevant legislation by the member states of the EU and the European Parliament.
They could have specified the EU legislation, but they did not. Furthermore, they could have answered the question properly. The requirement to use mark to market is set out in Directive 2006/49/EC (Annex VII) as well as International Financial Reporting Standards, set out here.

These IFRS, of course, are given legal effect by Commission Regulations made under the aegis of Council and European Parliament Regulation (EC) No 1606/2002, the latter declaring:

International Accounting Standards (IASs) are developed by the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC), whose purpose is to develop a single set of global accounting standards. Further to the restructuring of the IASC, the new Board on 1 April 2001, as one of its first decisions, renamed the IASC as the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and, as far as future international accounting standards are concerned, renamed IAS as International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). These standards should, wherever possible and provided that they ensure a high degree of transparency and comparability for financial reporting in the Community, be made obligatory for use by all publicly traded Community companies.
The main Commission Regulation is (EC) No 1725/2003, amended several times, most recently by (EC) No 1004/2008 of 15 October 2008.

Details and links to legislation can be found here, a site that took some finding. Although International Accounting Standards (IAS) have been renamed as IFRS, the commission has not amended its site title which means, of course, it does not show up in any search for the IFRS.

Difficult though the details may be to tease from the EU website, such things have to be dragged from the government. It really, really does not want you to know who (or what) runs this country.