Head of executives' pay inquiry gets a 17% rise

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Sir Richard Greenbury, the man chairing the inquiry into "excessive" executive pay, received a 17 per cent rise from Marks & Spencer last year, taking his annual pay to pounds 807,000, it was revealed last night.

Sir Richard, the M&S chairman, saw his package increase from pounds 689,000 in 1994. His basic salary of pounds 637,000 was boosted by a 20 per cent bonus of pounds 127,000 and other benefits worth pounds 43,000. In addition he cashed in 40,000 share options worth pounds 91,000.

The pay reward compares with a 3.5 per cent pay rise awarded to M&S staff last month. The pounds 127,000 bonus is the maximum allowed under the company's remuneration rules and is linked to the company's profit performance.

The level of the bonus is far in excess of the company's profit increase. Last month M&S reported an 8.5 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to pounds 924m.

M&S denied that its chairman's pay rise was an embarrassment given that the Greenbury committtee on executive pay is due to report its findings next month. However, it is certain to cause red faces in the Government, which may take legislative action itself on boardroom pay if the Greenbury findings do not come up to scratch.

Andrew Smith, Labour Treasury spokesman, said there was a conflict of interest between Sir Richard's role as head of the boardroom pay inquiry and his own rewards. "It will fuel public demand that the Government must take decisive action over utility bosses pay, as Labour has constantly argued," he said.

M&S said: "We are not embarrassed by the performance of the company or the remuneration of our chairman. There has to be a recognition that the more senior you are in the company, the more your performance impacts on the profit-and-loss account."

The controversy was compounded by new figures showing that PowerGen chief executive Ed Wallis collected a salary rise of 15 per cent - three times as much as company workers - swelling his overall pay package to pounds 461,000, while Labour claimed his total package of pay and executive shares added up to a rise of 42 per cent.

PowerGen chiefs' shares, page 21