Ministers pour cold water on RBS share giveaway proposals

CONSERVATIVE ministers yesterday dismissed claims that they are ready to privatise RBS by handing shares to the public before 2015, despite Lib Dem backing for the plan.

Reports over the weekend suggested the coalition was willing to sell off the bank’s shares to the public at a discount or even give them away ahead of the next general election.

“It’s just a premature discussion about what to do with the shares," chancellor George Osborne said from Moscow, where he is attending the G20 finance summit.

“We’ve got to get the Royal Bank of Scotland to a point where it is worth what the taxpayer paid then we can have a big discussion about what to do with the shares and how to return it to the private sector,” he told Sky News.

The government owns 82 per cent of RBS after pumping in £45bn at the height of the financial crisis and the Treasury insisted it would sell its stake “at the right time and in the interests of the taxpayer”.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and business secretary Vince Cable are both supporters of the share giveaway.