If you're a nurse you'll get 2-3%; for MPs it's 26%; but three utility bosses pocket pounds 1m

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The Independent Online
Three utility bosses have each netted pounds 1m in the past year, Labour said yesterday, as the party promised to redouble its efforts to expose "fat cats" in the run up to the party conferences.

Signalling the start of an autumn offensive, the front-bench Treasury spokesman, Alan Milburn MP, said that the issue extended far deeper than the pay packages of Cedric Brown at British Gas and Sir Desmond Pitcher at North West Water.

Roger Urwin was chief executive of London Electricity until he resigned halfway throughlast year. His salary was pounds 360,000, so he had received pounds 160,000. Dr Urwin was on a three-year rolling contract. He was allowed to keep his share options which he cashed in, making a pounds 650,000 profit. He left to go to National Grid, where he earns pounds 120,000 a year and where he has acquired 119,000 shares in National Grid, worth pounds 207,000.

Bill Fraser left South West Water, where he was managing director, earlier this year, after a series of environmental accidents. He resigned just before the publication of a report into an incident of water contamination in Devon that left hundreds of people ill. Mr Fraser's salary was pounds 224,000. He was paid pounds 226,000 for loss of office, an additional pounds 100,000 in pension contributions and pounds 10,000 in non-cash benefits. He kept 116,000 share options which at today's prices would give him a profit of pounds 360,000. The company has also agreed to keep him on as a consultant with a fee of pounds 50,000 a year.

Keith Henry was appointed chief executive of National Power in February 1995 on a basic salary of pounds 325,000. In addition, he was entitled to a performance-related bonus of pounds 110,000, plus other benefits worth pounds 12,855. This gave him a total salary last year of pounds 447,855.

There was more. National Power provided its new head with a company pension, to which they made contributions totalling pounds 334,000 - giving him a package of pounds 781,855. And, on his appointment, he was awarded share options worth as much as pounds 250,000 in the past year.

"It's heads you win, tails you win, for utility fat cats," said Mr Milburn. "These lottery-style payouts show that the Tories have failed to tackle boardroom excess in the privatised utilities. They have put a get-rich- quick attitude ahead of ... consumers and taxpayers. The windfall gains made by a few show the utilities can afford a windfall levy that will help the many."

Mr Milburn said that Labour would be campaigning hard on "fat cats" in the next fortnight. They would feature prominently in the coming conference onslaught.