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‘Bonuses bring best staff’

Bankers have defended bonus payments as essential to attract top-quality staff.

At last week’s Treasury select committee meeting, chiefs of Barclays, Lloyds TSB, Santander and HSBC defended their positions on Government bailout schemes and bonuses.

RBS chief executive Stephen Hester said: “I fully empathise with the public sentiments of unjustified rewards but it is very important that I can engage 177,000 staff in getting us out of this, frankly protecting the taxpayer from a 2tn balance sheet.

“I have to engage staff, get the best people to stay and attract better people to replace the ones who got us into this mess. The issue is how much worse can we treat our staff in relation to all the other banks in the world?”

Barclays chief executive John Varley said: “Over the course of the last five years, Barclays have paid the Inland Revenue a total of about 10bn. I think it is in the interest of the UK economy for the banks to be profitable and for banks to create employment and for the banks to pay taxes on their profits.”

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