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FSA: Not up to us to cap pay

14th August 2009

The head of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has said that it is up to society to decide whether pay in the sector should be capped and not the regulator.

Speaking to the BBC in a radio interview, Hector Sants said the FSA's responsibility was to ensure pay settlements did not undermine the viability of banks as a sustainable enterprise - but that individual levels were a matter for the government and society itself.

Distancing the regulator from the public anger concerning banking bonuses, Mr Sants said it was 'misleading' to criticise the FSA over a perceived lack of action.

Instead he insisted it was for the government to act, saying they 'must decide if they wish to single out bankers as different from other people', adding that the 'current consensus' was that pay caps were not set for individuals by the regulator.

'It would not make sense to debate it for bankers alone. It's a wider social issue,' he added.

The question of banker pay has come under intense scrutiny in recent months following the collapse of Northern Rock and subsequent turmoil that a number of Britain's other high street lenders experienced.

News that Northern Rock - now state-owned - has recently begun paying out bonuses again to its staff provoked public anger, with critics arguing that the failure of the financial system should not be rewarded.

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