Bankers' showdown meeting postponed


Business Secretary Vince Cable (left) and Chancellor George Osborne (right) have been forced to postpone a meeting with bank bosses

Plans for a showdown meeting between ministers and banking chiefs have been postponed because of travel disruption caused by heavy snow.

Chancellor George Osborne’s return to Britain from New York has been delayed by the weather, and other expected participants in the meeting were facing difficulties getting in, said the Treasury.

The banks had been expected to come under pressure from the Chancellor and Business Secretary Vince Cable to curb excessive bonuses at the meeting, which is now likely to take place later in the week.

Mr Cable renewed the threat of imposing taxes to tackle “scandalous” annual payouts as he insisted both coalition parties were united in seeking tough action.

He also expressed his determination to use the latest meeting to press for more openness on lavish pay and perks and for increased lending to small businesses.

Senior ministers have launched a series of starkly-worded warnings of the need for restraint in the face of the squeeze elsewhere in the economy as the bonus season approaches.

But there remain doubts about whether the Conservatives are as committed as their Liberal Democrat governing partners to imposing extra practical measures at this stage.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said that banks had to understand the “political context” of bonuses, given that they were bailed out by taxpayers who are now feeling the pinch.

He spoke after his Liberal Democrat deputy Nick Clegg said the Government would not “stand idly by” while the banks appeared to get away “scot free” with the fallout from the financial crisis.

The rhetoric on the banks has provoked a hostile reaction from the City and some scepticism as to what action the Government could take unilaterally to curb excess.

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