Cameron's tough bonus talk is 'hot air'

David Cameron was challenged last night to match his words with action as he repeated a threat to block a £500m bonus round at the largely state-owned bank RBS.

For the second time in 24 hours, the Prime Minister indicated the Government would intervene to prevent lavish annual rewards being paid to senior investment bankers at RBS. His warning followed reports that RBS was preparing bonus payments of £500m following the £950m paid out to the embarrassment of ministers last year.

Asked about the potential payments, Mr Cameron said: "The British Government is a major shareholder in RBS. That is a proposal I have read about in the newspapers – that's not agreed. We have a very big influence over it. We can stop the £500m – absolutely."

But Chris Leslie, a shadow Treasury minister, said: "David Cameron should be judged on his actions not his words." A senior Labour source added: "We've heard the Prime Minister say he is going to get tough on the bankers time and time again with little result."

Mr Cameron also signalled that the 50p top rate of income tax would remain, despite pressure from business leaders to lower it. He said: "I have been very clear – we have all been very clear – that we have to do this in a way that is fair so that the broadest backs bear the biggest burden."

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