No to bonuses for company that is in debt

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From: Maureen Hunt, Woolley, near Wakefield.

AN investment in the RBS, the bluest of blue chip shares, should have been “as safe as the Bank of England”.

However, shareholders saw their money virtually wiped out overnight and have received no dividend since 2008. It is not surprising, therefore, that as a shareholder I was furious at the bonuses to be paid to the chairman and chief executive, Sir Philip Hampton and Stephen Hester, despite appreciating their contractual rights.

Common sense would dictate that a company, which is in debt, should not pay bonuses to its staff. Before doing so, the creditors need to be paid off and shareholders should receive interest on their money. Bonuses should only be paid for hard work which culminates in a healthy profit. Nor should bonuses form part of a contract while a company remains in debt.

Stanley Parr praises Mr Hester in his letter (Yorkshire Post, February 2) for waiving his entire bonus – “his generosity has lit a beacon of hope and trust, for faith in the future of Britain”.

He certainly has earned my gratitude, as has Sir Philip Hampton. It is to be hoped that, although Mr Hester may have been bullied into this action, he is a man who can put the good of the RBS and his country ahead of his own ambition and will remain in his post until the bank has paid off its massive debt to the taxpayers and is able to remunerate its long-suffering shareholders.

In my book, Mr Hester would then deserve the knighthood which Fred Goodwin has recently forfeited.

From: Robert Reynolds, Harrogate.

HOW beastly we are to criticise those public-spirited bankers. These stalwart individuals are, after all, taxpayers and create billions for our economy. Except they don’t. They create money for themselves.

On the day that the British Establishment wheeled out the usual suspects to defend this industry, obviously communication was lacking. The CEO of the British Banking Association, Angela Knight, squealed on Bloomberg, that the persecution must stop. Unfortunately for her, as she gave the interview, a pop-up emerged on screen, “Barclays expected to make further cost cuts if it is to achieve Diamond’s profit targets”, then a little later “Lloyds to cut 1,000 jobs and close four offices”.

The bonus culture, another import from America, should be banned. All bankers can easily be replaced.

From: Dennis Whitaker, Baildon, Shipley.

HAD Fred Goodwin shown a modicum of contrition, perhaps with reduced severance pay or pension, then not only would he have retained his high standard of living but with his former business acumen and contacts, he might also have been able to make some form of restitution.

True, so many billions is an impossible mountain to climb but a man worthy of his salt might at least have tried and then, might just have kept his title.

In the light of the (so called) Noble Lords who were convicted and yet, retain their titles, I think it was a mistake to remove Fred Goodwin’s knighthood. Many will disagree but how does the taxpayer benefit from this?

From: Jim Beck, Lindrick Grove, Tickhill, Doncaster.

Regarding the controversy over Fred Goodwin’s dishonouring (“Let’s have more scapegoats”, Yorkshire Post, February 7), he hasn’t made much of a sacrifice; I would have been happier if he had kept his knighthood and given up his £675,000-a-year-for-life pension.

From: C D Round, Lee Lane East, Horsforth, Leeds.

TO me, there is a subtle difference between the bonus for Stephen Hester (RBS) and Bob Diamond at Barclays.

Barclays made a profit from which the bonus can be paid. Why public servants are paid a bonus for doing to the best of their ability the job for which they are paid is something I never understand.

Impossible position

From: Howard A Knight, Lyons Street, Sheffield.

IN recent days, three former senior police officers in Yorkshire – two Chief Constables and one Deputy Chief Constable – have announced their aspirations to become candidates in the elections for Police Commissioners to be held later this year (Yorkshire Post, February 7).

There are very good reasons why English law has long contained minimum prohibition periods relating to former elected representatives becoming employees, and former employees becoming elected representatives in the same authority.

For historical rather than rational reasons, the prohibition periods range widely from, effectively, five weeks to 13 months.

I believe that the election of a former senior police officer to be the Police Commissioner of the same force would put the new Chief Constable in an impossible position.

Although the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act seeks to set out the respective roles of the Commissioner and Chief Constable, I suggest it is almost inevitable that a former Chief Constable becoming Police Commissioner in the same force would cross the line.

Thus, in one fell swoop, the police force will have become politicised, the very fear that led the Association of Chief Police Officers to oppose Police Commissioners in the first place.

Whatever the superficial attraction – for themselves, political parties, and the electorate – I hope that they will reflect, seek wiser counsel, and withdraw.

It would, of course, be open to them to seek candidature for a force in which they had not been a senior officer.