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Labour 'to force vote on RBS bonus'


Stephen Hester

Stephen Hester

Stephen Hester

Labour will force a Commons vote calling for Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester to be stripped of his bonus, a party source has said.

It will hold an Opposition Day debate the week after next to heap pressure on the Government as the row continues to grow over the payment, which is worth almost £1 million.

Although the vote will not be binding it could prove deeply embarrassing for the coalition, which has faced widespread criticism for its decision not to block the bonus at the taxpayer-funded bank.

A Labour source said: "David Cameron's failure of leadership cannot be allowed to stand. We will force a Commons vote to let MPs show the public's disapproval of Mr Hester's bonus."

It comes as ministers insisted allowing the bonus to go ahead would protect taxpayers from "bigger financial risks" and warned installing a new board at RBS would cause "chaos".

Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, suggested blocking the payout by stepping in to directly control the arm's-length operation would have triggered worse problems. The Liberal Democrat said the Government had "looked at all the options in terms of how we should deal with" the bonus.

He told the BBC's Sunday Politics with Andrew Neil: "In this case, the judgment we had to make was should we go further, as many of us would like to, and say let's have no bonus at all? Have the Government taking control directly of RBS, and therefore causing potentially much bigger financial risks to the taxpayer?

"And in the end the calculation, from the point of view of protecting the taxpayer, is it was better to ensure that that didn't happen to RBS, given that there are tens of billions of pounds of your money and all your viewers' money tied up in this."

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "The reality is the contract we inherited from Labour meant that very clearly the board takes the decision on this, you can't interfere and tell them what to do.

"If we didn't like that then, of course, the only option would be to get rid of the board. Now, if you do that, imagine what would happen in the banking sector and imagine what would happen to RBS. You'd have chaos."