If we could depart, for the moment, from what in the greater scheme of things is the almost wholly irrelevant distraction of Stephen Hester’s bonus, a rather more important question continues to fester – when, if ever, is the taxpayer going to see some sort of a return on the £45bn of rescue capital sunk into Mr Hester’s charge, Royal Bank of Scotland?
To have so much public money tied up doing nothing at a time of growing fiscal austerity is a travesty bordering on the criminal. Think how many schools, hospitals, and even aircraft carriers, it could provide.
It had been hoped that by now the Government would be preparing the way for sale of at least a part of its 83pc stake, if not at a profit, certainly at no less than its effective buy-in price. With the shares still languishing at just 27p, against an average purchase price of 60p, that prospect remains a distant dream.