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Osborne: Nothing off the table

Osborne: Nothing off the table

George Osborne has held out the threat of extra taxes on banks, saying "nothing is off the table" if they fail to commit to a Government deal on lending. Responding to an urgent question raised by Shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson in Parliament, he added that the contract agreed between the previous Government and the Royal Bank of Scotland "puts no constraints on RBS bonuses for this year". The Chancellor said Labour contracts with RBS allowed it to pay bonuses at a market rate.

Mr Osborne said the Government had agreed a "strict limit" on the amount of bonus banks can pay up front, and a requirement that 50% of bonuses are paid in shares or other non-cash instruments which bank employees will not be able to sell on for an appropriate period.

This announcement comes after Bob Diamond, the chief executive of Barclays, has said that the period of remorse for banks should be over. Appearing in front of the Treasury Select Committee, he said: "There was a period of remorse and apology for banks but that needs to be over." On bonuses, he asserted that "compensation is pay for performance not pay for failure" but said no decision had yet been made on the bonuses Barclays would pay this year. Mr Diamond added that banks should be able to fail.

Banks are working with the Treasury on plans to help business lending reach more than £200bn this year. The Treasury expects banks to beat their total lending to business in 2010, estimated at about £180bn, with one senior industry insider saying the final total could be at least 10% higher.

Green Box: Osborne: Nothing off the tableClick to open

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