Page last updated at 09:47 GMT, Saturday, 1 August 2009 10:47 UK

Bank reform 'needs to be radical'

Paul Myners calls for Sir Fred Goodwin to do charity work

A review of how banks are governed should be "more radical", Treasury minister Lord Myners has told the BBC.

He told business editor Robert Peston the names and salaries of top earners below board level should be disclosed.

Banks should give more voting rights to loyal shareholders who stay on as engaged owners rather than sell up, Lord Myners also suggested.

The government-commissioned review is being carried out by former regulator Sir David Walker.

Lord Myners told the BBC that the Royal Bank of Scotland's (RBS) former chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin informed him last year that almost 200 of his bank's employees earned more than he did.

Sir Fred originally left his post with a £16.6m pension pot, although he agreed in June to hand back £4.7m.

Lord Myners also discussed in the interview his involvement in the rescue of RBS and the high-profile pension row.

Highly critical

He said of Sir Fred: "I did, when I spoke to Fred Goodwin during the months between October and February last year, urge on him that there was much he could do in the area of public service and public duty, which would help assuage people's anger at the outcome."

He added that he envisaged Sir Fred doing something "in the charitable area", and that it was not too late for him to "do something".

Lord Myners is a classic poacher turned gamekeeper, says our business editor, having made a fortune building up and running a fund management company, Gartmore, a big institutional investor in British companies.

A share certificate is a right and entitlement of ownership which carries with it certain responsibilities
Lord Myners

But now as the Treasury's City minister, he is on a mission to make such shareholders take a more responsible attitude to their ownership of businesses.

In his interview for the BBC's Leading Questions, Lord Myners was highly critical of shareholders who prefer to sell shares in companies that take a wrong turn, rather than staying on as owners and pressurising boards to fix what's wrong.

In urging Sir David to be more radical than he has been up to now, Paul Myners wants him to force banks to disclose the names and pay packages of their top earners, irrespective of whether or not those receiving large bonuses are on the board.

Our correspondent said that in calling for this action - among others - Lord Myners will be seen as humiliating those with whom he worked cheek-by-jowl for more than 30 years.

Market confidence

Lord Myners told the BBC that shareholders who do not hold shares for the long term should have inferior rights as owners, arguing that "companies are too important" for big shareholders to trade in and out of them "willy nilly".

"We've lost sight of the fact that a share certificate - in fact we don't have them now, it's all recorded electronically - but a share certificate is a right and entitlement of ownership which carries with it certain responsibilities," Lord Myners added.

"It's not a piece of paper to be traded, to be bought and sold."

Peter Montagnon, of the Association of British Insurers, said Lord Myners was "absolutely right" to raise a "real point" about the danger of "ownerless companies being unaccountable".

He said more needed to be done to "build up the critical mass of good, long-term owners" who were becoming a "diminishing band". Reaching out to sovereign wealth funds, which own around 10% of UK companies, might be one way of doing this, he said.

But he said owners had to be able to retain the right to sell and differential voting rights was not the answer.

"If you discriminate between types of shareholder, that's not good for confidence in market."

Leading Questions is broadcast at 2230 BST on the BBC News channel.



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