Balls: HSBC profits 'a good thing'

Ed Balls said HSBC's profits showed the need for an international agreement on bonuses
Ed Balls said HSBC's profits showed the need for an international agreement on bonuses

By Hannah Brenton

Banking giant HSBC's announcement that its profits more than doubled last year reinforces the need to tax bankers' bonuses, shadow chancellor Ed Balls has said.

The bank's profits reached £11.8 billion, a dramatic boost from the £4.4 billion posted last year.

HSBC also disclosed that its top five executives took home a total of £34.3 million last year, with chief executive Stuart Gulliver receiving £6.1 million.

According to PoliticsHome, Mr Balls told BBC Radio 5 Live the profits were "a good thing", as long as they translated into increased lending.

"I think the banks coming back to profit is a good thing, if this translates into more lending to small businesses and medium businesses and there is clearly a structural issue in the whole way our banking system is organised," he said.

"This is a global bank with people working all around the world but it is important that we take a tough look and as for bonuses, I haven't seen the details yet but what we've seen in the last few weeks just strengthens our argument that we should repeat the bonus tax again this year and use the billions of pounds to keep the economy moving when it is stagnated at the moment."

The shadow chancellor called for an international agreement to tax bonuses, arguing it would raise between £2-3 billion.

Mr Balls said he did wanted the British banking sector to be "competitive", but said it was important to curb big bonuses without losing jobs.

"I think most people look at the multi-million pounds some of these individuals have been paid and think: 'Are they really delivering that amount of worth to our economy?'," he added.

HSBC's headquarters are located in the UK, which meant the bank paid £1.2 billion in taxes. In 2009, it contributed £871 million to the Treasury's coffers.


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