Bankers have been warned that their performance bonuses could be reclaimed.
Gordon Brown told the Commons committee yesterday banks should be able to get back what they paid out, if it was later proved bosses had not performed well.
The prime minister faced questions on the economy, property and the bonus culture, often prevalent in financial firms’ offices in London.
Mr Brown said that payments should not be considered “a one-way bet”.
He told the committee: “In other words, if you fail there is a clawback which is also possible within a bonus system.”
The prime minister said performance should be rewarded more for long-term results. He also voiced his support for the Financial Services Authority and asked for it to be given the power to punish banks, which rewarded only short-term gain.
“I believe the bonus structure has got to be over a number of years and not over one year, if it is to exist in these banks,” he went on.
The largest financial institutions rent their commercial property in London – some, such as HSBC, even own the buildings that they occupy.