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UK Politics

Tories dismiss Vince Cable's plans to tackle executive pay


Tory MPs today dismissed Business Secretary Vince Cable's plans to tackle excessive boardroom pay as "liberal clap-trap" and "drivel", which would harm the country's prospects of economic growth.

The right-wing MPs also criticised Mr Cable's plans to increase the number of women who sit on boards, claiming he should be more concerned with how competent executive committees are rather than whether they are suitably diverse.

Mr Cable signalled he was closer to Labour's position than some of his coalition colleagues when it came to tackling executive pay, telling the Commons he had "spoken constructively" with Ed Miliband about the problem.

A number of backbench Tory MPs heckled the Business Secretary as he told the Commons there would be greater transparency on boardroom salaries and bonuses, with shareholders given binding votes to hold companies to account.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said he welcomed the announcements but added that they "simply do not go far enough in promoting the transparency, accountability and fairness that people want to see".

Mr Cable received the harshest criticism from his Conservative colleagues.

Tory MP Philip Davies (Shipley) told the Business Secretary: "I have heard some drivel in my time but I don't think that in all my years in opposition I have heard as much drivel from the front bench as I have heard from you today.

"Businesses look to your department for support and help. Can I suggest that you get off your backs and let them create some wealth and you spend your time in your department trying to sort out some of the massive problems that we face without interfering in every business in the country?"

In reply, Mr Cable told the MP he should read the reports from the consultation on executive pay, as well as listen to business leaders who supported the proposals.

Peter Bone (Wellingborough) was equally scathing. He told Mr Cable: "You must be extremely happy.

"Your liberal, left-wing claptrap that you have announced today, which even Labour didn't do in 13 years, has somehow got through the coalition in the hope of a good headline, but it has done nothing to increase growth and employment in this country."

Mr Cable said that when he first announced the idea 18 months ago, he was denounced as a Marxist. He said he hoped that he had left the criticism behind but conceded that it had stayed with him.