Cabinet minister Peter Hain has urged City firms to donate the millions received from bonuses to charitable causes.
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, the Welsh and Northern Ireland secretary said the huge amount paid out to City high-flyers in bonuses could divide society.
"There's a real problem of people on average incomes feeling there's a sort of super rich class right at the top," he said.
"That sort of thing creates a society where you start getting envy being promoted and a sense of real antagonism and that breeds all sorts of socially undesirable behaviour," he added.
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Last year Christmas bonuses totalled a record £8.8 billion in the City.
Mr Hain called on the largest City firms to establish a culture of modern-day philanthropy. "Why don't they give two-thirds of that £8.8 billion and invest it in charity or invest it in regeneration schemes for unemployed kids who are living a mile away from the opulence that there is in the City?" he asked.
Calling for firms to "show a lead", the South African-born politician hinted that a failure to do so could lead to higher taxes.
"There's a debate starting and either it's done in a self policing way, a way that shows moral and socially responsible leadership, or people will look for other solutions."
But he was keen to stress his desire to avoid tax hikes, insisting that "this is not a traditional left-wing cry to soak the rich".
"I want the City to be the most successful financial centre in the world. I'm not in favour of high taxes," he said.
Mr Hain is running for the deputy leadership of the Labour party. His rivals include Hilary Benn, Harriet Harman, Alan Johnson and Jon Cruddas.