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Labour To Debate Bankers' Bonuses

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Labour will use a parliamentary debate on Tuesday to attack "excessive" bonuses and urge the government to increase transparency in banking.

The party's strategists are keen to continue to make the political running after Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester waived his bonus of almost £1m following a threat by Ed Miliband to put it to a Commons vote.

On Monday six senior executives at taxpayer-subsidised Network Rail followed suit and agreed to forgo their bonuses in the face of a political storm over the scale of the planned awards running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Chief executive Sir David Higgins, who was among those in line for the payouts, announced the money will instead be paid into a safety improvement fund for railway level crossings

The issue was due to be discussed on Friday at a NR meeting, which has now been postponed.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening, who planned to attend the meeting to vote against the bonus payments, described the executives decision as "sensible and welcome", adding it was a sign that they had recognised the "strength of public opinion".

It comes a week after NR pleaded guilty to failings that led to the deaths of two schoolgirls hit by a train at a level crossing at Elsenham in Essex six years ago.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna will use his Commons speech to demand a halt to what he calls the "culture of excessive bonuses" and for greater responsibility in the City and beyond.

He will argue that such lavish payouts have damaged Britain's economy and its society, as well as being bad for business.

Labour believes that it has captured the public mood, amid popular revulsion at the perceived excesses of the City at a time of economic austerity.

But with feelings running high, the party has also faced criticism that it is stoking anti-business sentiment which risks driving banks and other financial institutions overseas.

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Labour keeps up attack on bonuses