James Moore: £6m or £13m, neither is much of a stretch

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The Independent Online

Outlook If Barclays' bosses thought the heat had more or less died down over Bob Diamond's pay, they were sorely mistaken. Pirc, the corporate governance consultancy, has kicked off the latest round of blood letting by recommending that shareholders vote against the bank's remuneration report and furiously criticising the chief executive's package. Depending on which set of numbers you care to use, it could be anything from £6.3m to £13.5m.

Barclays says the former figure, because the rest comes in the form of bonuses linked to work done in previous years. Critics such as Pirc say the latter, because that's what Mr Diamond made this year. No, no, says Barclays, if you're including that you should forget about £2.25m from his long-term incentive scheme which is in this year's package but won't be paid for several years. And so the debate goes on. And on.

Perhaps now is the time for the Financial Reporting Council to intervene with some long-overdue guidelines for simplifying the way the information on executive pay is presented.

Banks such as Barclays are by no means the only, or even the worst, offenders. (But even the Association of British Insurers has concerns about its pay plans.) All the same, whether you believe that Mr Diamond's package last year was £6.3m or £13.5m, it is still too much.

Barclays shares, as Pirc points out, are trading beneath their notional net asset value and the bank is too big to fail, and so enjoys an effective state guarantee. The "stretching" targets its executives are supposed to hit to get their bonuses clearly aren't stretching enough.