Vince Cable 2013
The Business Secretary is also expected to announce a consultation into zero-hour contracts (Reuters)

Business Secretary Vince Cable will announce tough new policies to make company directors more accountable for their actions.

Cable, who is due to speak at the 2013 Liberal Democrat Party Conference, is expected to call for more "fairness" and "trust" in the government's director disqualification scheme.

One of the new rules will mean that directors with foreign restrictions will be prevented from being a director of a UK company.

"For too long, a small rotten core has got away with either a slap on the wrist, a ban from working in their own industry or at the most, a time-limited ban," Cable is expected to say.

"That is why I will beef up the laws to ban rogue directors from running British companies so dodgy directors face the strongest possible consequences for their irresponsible actions."

But Dr Roger Barker, director of corporate governance at the Institute of Directors, said: "We recognise that directors should be held accountable for their actions, but the loading of excessive risks and liabilities onto directors will affect attitudes about the viability of involvement on corporate boards, with negative implications for UK competitiveness and growth prospects."

The business secretary is also due to announce other measures to make the "workplace and wages fairer for everyone".

Cable will announce the issuing of a public consultation into zero-hour contracts, following a review by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in the summer.

The consultation will explore how to tackle any abuses in the system - in particular, exclusivity and transparency.

He will say: "I am determined to make sure people are paid and treated fairly, while helping to keep people employed in these delicate economic times."

But Mike Cherry, national policy chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, defended the use of zero-hour contracts.

"When to make use of these contracts is a question of responsible management," explained Cherry.

"There are situations where zero hour contracts are a good fit for employee and employer. Students looking for occasional work and people returning to work following parental leave are good examples of this."

Cable will also announce that he has asked the Low Pay Commission (LPC), the body that advises Government on the National Minimum Wage (NMW), to work with the government to examine over a longer time horizon what business and economic conditions are needed to allow further increases in the NMW.

The announcement will follow strong indications - such as the Office for National Statistics' figures revealing that construction sector output jumped by 2.2% in July - that the economy is recovering from the financial crisis of 2008.