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Vince Cable has warned businesses not to risk public outrage by awarding executives "ridiculous" pay.
In an interview with BBC News, the Business Secretary revealed he had written to all FTSE 100-listed companies to remind them of the public's anger on pay excesses.
"A lot of trust has been lost, because of the extremes of what happened in 2010, when pay escalated massively unrelated to the performance of companies," he said.
Mr Cable's intervention is timed to coincide with annual general meeting (AGM) season, when shareholders are able to voice their concerns with the way companies are run. Banking giant Barclays holds it own AGM this week, and Mr Cable challenged its executive team to heed public concern over pay.
He said: "It's particularly true of the banking sector where pay reached ridiculous and dangerous levels, and with Barclays in particular coming up on Thursday, we will see how far they have listened to people who own the banks - the shareholders - and exercise responsibility in long term thinking."
According to The Guardian, Mr Cable's letter to the companies says that "when every part of the economy is striving to get more from less, I hope you find yourselves animated by the same spirit."
Labour have dismissed the move, with Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna this evening tweeting: "After promising annual binding shareholder votes on remuneration, Ministers caved in and have failed to match their rhetoric with action."
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