THE SNP have vowed to back a “radical” package of reforms at Westminster to improve corporate responsibility and tackle misconduct – including a new legal duty to act in the social interest.

Under the proposals, company directors will have a legal responsibility to act in the interests of wider stakeholders as well as shareholders, embedding corporate responsibility in law.

The SNP’s manifesto, to be unveiled this week, will also include plans to tighten regulations on the behaviour of senior bankers.

Drew Hendry, SNP candidate for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, said: “It’s better for everyone when businesses choose to act responsibly. But when firms fail to do the right thing, government should have the power to step in.

“The SNP will put forward a package of radical measures that will make sure that businesses are working with interests of their shareholders – many of whom will be the pension funds of ordinary workers – and wider society in mind.”

Plans to support an increase in shareholders’ rights to intervene in the running of a business will also be unveiled in the party’s manifesto.

Further pledges include pressing the UK Government to amend the Companies Act 2006 so that directors have a duty to promote the interests of companies’ wider stakeholders as well as members and shareholders; supporting the introduction of effective legal protections to ensure small businesses are paid on time; and backing the reinstatement of the reverse burden of proof which, before being removed by the Tories, required senior bank managers to demonstrate they had taken action in the event of wrongdoing coming to light.

Finally, they will press for the public interest to be fully protected in any future disposal of RBS shares, including decisions on how any windfall revenues should be used.

Hendry added: “SNP MPs have been at the forefront of holding the Tories to account for their failures – and in the next parliament, Scotland could hold the balance of power.

“In that scenario, we’ll have real power to pursue our progressive and ambitious manifesto commitments.”

Another key manifesto pledge is to demand the next UK government use public contracts to drive fair work.

The Scottish Government announced more than four years ago that it would extend Fair Work criteria to as many funding streams and business support grants as it can.

Under the criteria, workers must be paid a Real Living Wage and be given access to training with employers committing to end zero-hours contracts, take action on the gender pay gap and engage with the workforce and trade unions. The SNP candidate for Aberdeen North, Kirsty Blackman, called on Westminster to follow Holyrood’s lead.

“Workers in Scotland have the right to expect a fair working environment – and it’s right that employers recognise that low pay and exploitative zero hours contracts will not be tolerated in Scotland,” she said.

“It’s totally unfair however that workers across the rest of the UK, or workers in Scotland on UK government contracts, can’t expect the same rights thanks to the incompetence of the Westminster government.

“Westminster is failing everyday workers and the SNP will stand up for the interests of the many across the UK by demanding the next UK government take immediate action.”