Page last updated at 11:05 GMT, Saturday, 24 October 2009 12:05 UK

Banker bonuses minute, says duke

The Duke of York
Support for UK troops should be more vocal, says the Queen's son

The Duke of York has defended bankers' bonuses, saying they are "minute" in the scheme of things.

The UK's special representative for trade and investment said he did not want to demonise the financial sector and bonuses were an easy target.

Prince Andrew told the Daily Telegraph "excesses" should stop but "don't throw the baby out with the bath water".

But his comments left him isolated, warned John McFall the Treasury Select committee chairman.

Prince Andrew said closing tax loopholes for Britain's 112,000 non-domiciles could have a detrimental effect on the UK.

He said: "Will it have an effect on the public purse as to be valid, or will it have a detrimental effect for the UK in the long run?"

'Privilege abused'

Earlier this week, the Centre for Economics and Business Research said City bank bonuses would hit £6bn this year, up from £4bn in 2008, because of rising profits and less competition.

The duke, who has acted in his trade role since 2001, said: "I don't want to demonise the banking and financial sector. Bonuses, in the scheme of things, are minute. They are easy to target.

"A number will have abused their privilege of a bonus, so get rid of the excesses, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water."

In a wide-ranging interview, he also commented on the "difficult" war in Afghanistan and called on the public and government to be more vocal in supporting British troops.

The former Fleet Air Arm helicopter pilot in the Falklands War said soldiers needed more reassurance from their leaders.

The duke said: "They are being remarkably more successful at it than is being adequately communicated."

Mr McFall said he should be more cautious about getting involved in such a controversial issue as bank bonuses.

He insisted Prince Andrew's views were not shared by the public.

Mr McFall said: "As defender of bonuses, he stands on a lonely plinth, I don't see anyone joining him.

"And those of us who are recipients of public money, including the prince, should be very sensitive to the fact that as we speak, taxpayers' money is providing life support to these very banks."

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