Blagging the news: the RBS bonus row

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Mrs. Jones: I understand we need to offer competitive salaries to these gentlemen, but with pay freezes in the NHS and elsewhere, Hester was certainly right to reject his bonus.

Mr. Jones: My dear, I couldn’t agree more. The man’s emoluments total more in three days than those of a soldier in Afghanistan over a year! But I say, do you think Labour are more responsible for the old boy’s decision than the coalition?

The RBS bonus row

What:

Debate raged last week over whether or not the government ought to step in to prevent banker Stephen Hester claiming his £963,000 bonus. On Sunday evening he decided to reject the bonus citing huge government pressure as the reason. Pressure came from across the political spectrum with many claiming  that it’s madness that a bonus of this amount should be given out by a company partly owned by the taxpayer , especially given the climate of cuts and pay-freezes in the public sector. This reached its peak when Labour said they would raise the issue for debate in the commons. Coalition ministers, however, said their hands were tied by the fact that the bonus was approved by the last Labour government and said that the alternative, to take over the bank and over-rule the board, would throw the banking sector into tumult, risking tens of billions of pounds of taxpayer’s money.

Who:

Stephen Hester is the CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), appointed at the end of 2008 to replace Sir Fred Goodwin after the bank had to be bailed out by the government, who now own 82% of it. As CEO he is in charge of £45bn of public money and has a salary of £1.2m.

Sound bites to wow with:

‘The bonus is half of what it was last year and considerably less than many other banks. Labour’s objection to it was simply an attempt to curry favour with the electorate in a climate where banker’s bonuses are particularly evocative.’

‘The bonus shares would not have totalled £963,000 after the 50% of income tax and 2% national insurance, not to mention the 28% Capital Gains Tax he’ll have to pay when he sells them.’

Don’t say:

‘The money should now be put towards the building of a giant boat for the Queen.’


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