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December 9, 2011 / politicsbitesize

Underperforming Ministers

Image of Nick Clegg

Credit Alex Folkes/Fishnik Photography

On the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday 4th December the Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg spoke out about the obscene pay of top executives in the private sector. He promised that the Coalition Government would implement a way to restrain boardroom greed and excessive salaries and would begin setting out their proposals in the next month. Mr Clegg suggested that even the private sector should take its share of pain in this ‘age of austerity’.

As already noted by Politics:bitesize, the High Pay Commission made recommendations to the government regarding the basic pay of company executives. One of these proposals suggests that a lack of transparency enables salaries at the top to spiral out of control, and so it calls for the publishing of ‘the top ten executive pay packages outside the boardroom’. In his interview, Nick Clegg reiterated this suggestion by promising to open up the ‘closed shop’ in which executives set their own pay. It is heartening to hear such commendable words from our Deputy Prime Minster and encouraging to think that he may have read the High Pay Commission’s report.

However, this was not the only point Mr Clegg raised. He continued with a nod in the direction of the public sector strikes on Wednesday 30th November:

‘… just as we have been tough on unsustainable stuff in the public sector we now need to get tough on irresponsible and unjust behaviour of top remunerations of executives in the private sector. What do I mean by that? Well I don’t mean, let’s be clear, I don’t mean the government starts going around setting pay rates in the private sector, that’s not what I mean at all. In fact, I believe that people should be well paid if they succeed. What I abhor is when people get paid bucketloads of cash in difficult times for failure – that has got to stop.’

Very admirable words for an MP, particularly in light of a recent news article that exposed the fact that David Cameron had to confront his ministers over a failure to meet their targets. According to Oliver Wright in the Independent, the Prime Minister was required to call senior ministers to Downing Street in order that they might explain why their departments had missed self-imposed targets and ask what they proposed to do about it. Now, bearing in mind these ministers get paid a ‘bucketload’ of tax payers’ cash, what is Nick Clegg going to do about the Coalition’s underperforming ministers in this ‘age of austerity’? How will he stop this behaviour? One way to find out is to write a letter to him and ask, so watch this space!


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