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Bank Bonuses

Volume 591: debated on Tuesday 27 January 2015

The Government keep their opposition to the EU-wide cap on bonuses, but we withdrew our legal challenge in November 2014 after it became clear that it was not likely to succeed. We believe that the cap is flawed, and will just serve to put up fixed salaries, but instead of pursuing the legal challenge we are looking at other ways of building a system of pay in the banking system that only rewards excellence and clearly promotes responsibility.

Can the Minister tell the House how much the Chancellor spent on legal fees alone in that failed legal challenge? Was that not a huge waste of money when the priority should have been to help those people most in need?

No. The amount spent was £43,000. The Government believe fundamentally that we need to have the toughest regime in the world of any global financial centre on pay, and that is what we have. We have ensured that bankers will be remunerated in future on performance and that pay can be clawed back. We have put in place a system that is far better and far more accountable than anything that the previous Government attempted.

In the light of all the hard work by the Government to ensure that bonuses are held back by banks to secure better behaviour by staff and greater stability for banks, is not the bonus cap a crude measure that will increase bank instability and bad behaviour by bankers?

My hon. Friend is exactly right. The Government wanted to challenge that cap because it would push up fixed pay, which means bankers being paid not for performing but for simply turning up and raises prudential risks associated with higher fixed costs. It was vital to the interests of this important sector to the UK that we introduced a better regime, and I am delighted that the Chancellor has written to the Governor of the Bank of England in his role on the Financial Stability Board to ask him to look at other ways of ensuring accountability.