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Worth every penny?

Salaries and bonuses paid to workers in the City of London are unfair and unjustified. At least according to the majority present at the Futures and Options Association's third City debate, held last month.

It was hardly ground-breaking stuff, but a mixture of bombast and wit kept the audience amused. Arguing that City salaries are fair, George Cox, chairman of Unisys, suggested that without the opportunity for people to earn obscene sums of money, society is static. The only reason for rejecting the motion would be envy, he argued.

Opposing was Mary Ann Sieghart, deputy editor of The Times, who ventured that high City salaries were in the interest of no-one, whether shareholders, employers or even the employees: they never have any time to spend the filthy lucre anyway.

Brian Williamson, chairman of Gerrard Group, provided a lively seconding of the motion. He had canvassed the chairmen of three leading City institutions to discover the average salary paid to their staff. At a financial services group, the figure was £27,000 ($45,000) to £30,000; a merchant bank £30,000 to £35,000; and an investment bank £38,000 to £40,000. And he unearthed a figure from an official City of London survey, which put the average salary in the City at £46,209.

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