Clegg fires second bonus tax warning at bankers

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg threatened a second emergency tax on bank
bonuses if bankers award themselves “unjustified” payouts in the approaching
bonus season.

He issued the threat after delivering a keynote speech to his party’s
Liverpool conference announcing a crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion
intended to net £7 billion.

It followed a speech in which Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander said
£900 million would be spent by HMRC in a drive to recover the money.

The deputy prime minister was speaking on BBC Radio 4 interview before
jetting off to attend a UN international aid conference in New York.

Clegg said: “If the banks pay themselves unjustified bonuses, we reserve the
right to take very serious action on that.”

He said this “would not be in their interests at all, socially or
economically”, adding: “It is very important that the banks understand that you
cannot possibly award yourself ludicrous sky-high bonuses in an industry that
has been bailed out by the taxpayer when those same taxpayers are now having to
make very serious sacrifices in their own lives…

“If you abuse the generosity of taxpayers who have provided, both directly
and indirectly, a massive infusion of public funds to bail you out by awarding
yourselves bonuses that will appear almost gratuitously offensive at a time when
people are having sacrifices in terms of their pay and pensions, then clearly
this Government will not be able to stand idly by.”

He said no options were ruled out, including a further levy.

Clegg’s remarks follow a warning from Business Secretary Vince Cable that
defiant bankers would be heading for a “train crash” and face an “enormous kick
back from leading politicians would be “on the war path”.

The government is considering whether it would be possible and advisable to
split traditional high street banking operations from merchant banking.

Clegg also defended plans to increase revenue from green taxes, principally
on petrol and other fuel but insisted the increases would be balanced by cuts in
income tax.

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