David Cameron has urged the Royal Bank of Scotland to show "restraint" in its bonus packages for senior colleagues of chief executive Stephen Hester.
The Prime Minister said the remuneration arrangements put in place by the former Labour government for executives at the part-nationalised bank had to be followed.
However he added: "They have got to have proper regard in terms of restraint when they have had so much money from the taxpayer and they have made so many mistakes in the past."
Mr Cameron's comments come as a number of executives in RBS's investment branch are expected to be offered large payments in the coming weeks.
Under mounting pressure, Mr Hester gave up his offered £963,000 shares package bonus on Sunday night.
Mr Cameron said the "main thing" was to ensure that RBS was turned around to safeguard the taxpayers' investment. He suggested the bank ought to explain better why it felt its executives were worth the bonuses they were being offered despite a falling share price.
"I think what needs to happen is a sense of restraint which is exactly what the Government urged on RBS in the first place, and they need to do a better job - as everybody has - about explaining how pay is linked to performance," he told a press conference in Brussels.
"And if performance isn't the share price then people need to see very clearly what it is you are doing to sort out that bank, to turn it round, to make it safe, to make sure its long-term value... because that's what I care about.
"Is the taxpayer going to get their money back, that we had to put into this bank that was so badly managed in the past? These are the things they have got to focus on."
The Prime Minister said the arm's length management arrangements for RBS, including the decision to run it as a commercial business, had been put in place by Labour. He indicated the Government would look at those arrangements although it had no plans to change them.