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Labour won’t pursue heavy-handed regulation

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A Labour government would avoid heavy-handed regulation, according to shadow chancellor Ed Balls, despite plans for a bank bonus tax and to raise the top rate of income tax.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Balls said that Labour would seek to institute a 50p income tax rate throughout the next parliament, but would also seek to remove it when conditions allowed, and added that Labour would not force banks to dispose of branches when exceeding a certain market share.

He told the FT: “You don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

“Ed Miliband and I have never run a business but we have more experience than anybody in British politics in working with business.

“Financial services, properly regulated with the right leadership and values, have a big role to play in the British economy.”

He added: “Ed Miliband knows how important banks are to our economy.”

Balls also said he would be disappointed if HSBC decided to relocate its headquarters outside of the UK. The bank began evaluating its domicile last month.

He said: “There are some who would say ‘good riddance’: I’m categorically not one of those.”

The interview comes exactly a month after more than 100 business leaders signed a letter published on the front page of The Telegraph backing the Tories and expressing concern over Labour’s economic plans.

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