Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Rein in banks, PM told

From the Morning Star

The government was urged today to overhaul its "impotent" attempts to prevent greedy bankers from lining their pockets with six-figure bonuses.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg yesterday said that bankers' bonuses seem to be coming from "a parallel universe" as they prepare to pay out annual bonuses estimated to total £7 billion.

He also echoed Prime Minister David Cameron in saying that state-owned banks such as Royal Bank of Scotland should be sensitive to taxpayers' concerns when awarding extra payouts after it emerged that the bank's chief executive was to receive a £6.8 million pay package.

But both leaders have been accused of being all talk and no trousers in their pledges to rein in sky-high bankers' bonuses at a time of widespread cuts to pay and jobs.

Left Economics Advisory Panel co-ordinator Andrew Fisher said: "The old adage that 'you can't control what you don't own' needs updating in light of this government's impotent attempts to control bankers' bonuses.

"Attempts to cap pay or bonuses will prove futile unless the government sets bankers' pay and bonuses at these banks and it can't do that unless it takes control - something which is long overdue."

Labour MP John McDonnell has recently tabled two early day motions on bankers' bonuses and executive pay, which calls on the government to "tackle this grotesque display of inequality and outrageous greed."

High Pay Commission chairwoman Deborah Hargreaves said: "With banks preparing to pay multi-million pound bonuses, they are showing once again just how out of touch with the public mood they are.

"Mr Cameron has called on the banks to pay smaller bonuses, but it is high time the government took action itself to stop this bonanza."

She added that the coalition should follow the Irish government's lead and threaten to legislate against bonus payment at bailed-out banks unless they show restraint.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has called on the government to extend the tax on bankers' bonuses which raised £3.5bn in 2010, claiming it was "unfair" that the government's banking levy would raise less than half that sum this year at a time when ordinary families struggle to cope with a VAT rise.

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