Professor Michael Barber, of London University's Institute of Education, who is Tony Blair's education adviser, says local education authorities could be asked to maintain the registers and to coordinate the efforts of local organisations to recruit volunteers.
The idea comes from Birmingham chief adviser David Woods, who wants to see a register of businessmen prepared to offer their services to his authority's inner-city schools.
Professor Barber shares some of the doubts expressed by Birmingham's chief education officer, Tim Brighouse, as to whether the quality of governors makes any difference to a school. But he is convinced it can be crucial for a school at risk of failing. "Timely action by alert governors can reverse the decline, " he insists.
But Nargis Rashid, who runs Birmingham's governor training, believes Labour will need to take tougher measures if it wants to get business governors for the inner cities. She says: "I have seen a succession of voluntary schemes with this aim, but very little happens beyond the rhetoric. We need a massive increase in the supply of individuals looking for a school to serve, and that will only happen if companies are required by law to take specific steps to promote governor training and service."