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Cameron and Miliband clash over bankers’ pay at PMQs

Prime minister rebuked by Speaker for accusing Labour leader of hypocrisy during a heated exchange over bankers’ pay

David Cameron and Ed Miliband clashed over bankers’ bonuses at prime minister’s questions as the Labour leader demanded the government publish the names of all bankers earning more than £1m.

He also called for workers to be allowed to sit on the remuneration committees of major companies so board members would have to look their workforce in the eye as they make pay awards.

Cameron hit back, saying plans to publish the names of top earners had not been implemented as the committee that made the recommendation had suggested it should only go ahead if it had EU-wide support. He added it was not practical to let workers sit on remuneration committees.

Miliband accused Cameron of being “part of the problem” of excessive executive pay.

The prime minister was rebuked by the Speaker for accusing Miliband of hypocrisy as the pair clashed in the wake of the row over Royal Bank of Scotland chief Stephen Hester’s bonus.

Cameron said Labour had failed to act during its term in office and insisted the UK had the “toughest and most transparent regime” of any major financial centre. Miliband said legislation requiring banks to disclose how many employees were paid more than £1m was already on the statute book and could be implemented.

Cameron told him: “For the first time ever, banks are going to publish the pay of the top eight executives. That never happened in 13 years of a Labour government.”

He said Sir David Walker, who had proposed the reforms on publishing the names of bankers earning £1m or more, had recommended it should be done across the EU.

Miliband said the prime minister was giving “no leadership on top pay” and added that there were “more than eight people earning over £1m at our banks”.

He said the chancellor, George Osborne, had backed the reforms before he took office and that it was “another broken promise”.

Cameron shot back: “It was the last Labour government, when you were in the cabinet, that agreed an RBS bonus pool of £1.3bn, literally hundreds of people were getting million-pound bonuses and you signed it off.

“The issue for you is why are you in favour now in opposition of things you never did in government?

“Some might call it opposition, some people might call it hypocrisy.”

Neither leader made any reference to the decision of the forfeiture committee to withdraw former RBS chief Fred Goodwin’s knighthood.

The prime minister’s spokesman said ministers were looking to see if peers could have their peerage withdrawn if found guilty of a criminal offence. The idea is likely to feature in the Lords reforms bill in the next sesssion.

On welfare reform, Cameron repeatedly challenged Miliband to say whether he supported a benefits cap set at £26,000 per household. He accusing Labour of not even flip-flopping on the issue, but just flopping. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds