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Silence does not inspire confidence

Silence does not inspire confidence

The Commons employment select committee has turned its hearings on top pay into a circus. Not much serious debate about the important issues of why top pay has risen and how it should be curbed - but just look at what fun the MPs have had taunting the "fat cats" of the utilities in public.

Sir Richard Greenbury, the chairman of Marks & Spencer, and also chairman of the committee on executive pay set up by the Confederation of British Industry, is too wise an old bird to fall for that trap. Never at the best of times keen on publicity, he has put his committee members virtually under an oath of silence. Now he is insisting he will only speak to the employment committee in camera.

It is hard to blame him for seeking to avoid the ringmaster's whip. But given that disclosure is the key to any kind of defence to the pay that top businessmen receive, it hardly inspires confidence that the Greenbury committee dares not open its mouth in public.