Pride and pay

WHAT price success? Having steered Royal Bank of Scotland back to stability and the hope of a full-year profit, there are some who argue that Stephen Hester deserves an estimated £6.8m in salary, bonuses and other payments.

They should be given short shrift. The taxpayer-funded bank may have been transformed over the last two years but it has also shed staff at an extraordinary rate.

With more than 26,000 jobs cut globally since the onset of the financial crisis, Mr Hester's changes have been extremely painful. To all those who have lost their jobs, handing the chief executive another huge sum of money would be an insult.

Of course, the Treasury must ensure Mr Hester is paid at a competitive rate. It must not, however, be held over a barrel by someone who has admitted that even his parents think he is paid too much.

Banking executives, who have warned they could leave Britain if the Government imposes too many restrictions on pay, must learn that making threats will not get them what they want.

Mr Hester, meanwhile, must show some restraint and once again take a chunk of his emoluments in shares, which would reflect the bank's long-term performance. Taxpayers have made a huge investment in RBS, and they deserve a good return.

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