Bonus barney

THERE was a familiar feel to yesterday's Parliamentary exchanges on bankers. A year ago, the then Tory opposition accused Labour of not doing enough to limit bonuses. Now Labour accuses the coalition of failing to honour past commitments to limit the scale of such payments.

Such conduct, so typical of Westminster, ill-served taxpayers on the day that Barclays boss Bob Diamond said that the "period of remorse and apology" for banks needs to be over. This was about Alan Johnson, the Shadow Chancellor, trying to prove his economic credentials – and George Osborne attempting to show that he's on the side of the ordinary person rather than his millionaire friends in the City. Yet both men ignored a key point, and it is this. Having bailed out the banks, the public except that the sector needs to return to financial parity so that taxpayers receive a return on the country's investment.

They would, however, be slightly less indignant if the last Government had not sanctioned the 2m bonus now being accrued by Stephen Hester, chief executive of the nationalised RBS. And they might be more understanding if the banks were actually lending money to viable small businesses and improving their shoddy customer service, two issues that were overlooked by Messrs Osborne and Johnson.