‘Corporate responsibility’ minister to set out plans

The extra job handed to him by prime minister Tony Blair followed a series of rows over directors wages and big firms behaviour, notably Barclays Bank decision to close 171 branches in one day while boosting the pay of its chief executive dramatically.

The move is an attempt to put the interest of the customer higher on the corporate agenda and Howells could take a role over boardroom pay although he denied that his new job would lead to increased interference, extra costs or more red tape for companies.

The minister is currently considering how he will approach the task and will outline his views in a major City speech early next month.

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