The former heads of RBS and HBOS face a dressing down today from MPs who will order them to explain how they were paid millions of pounds while presiding over the collapse of two international banking groups.

Members of the Treasury committee say that the grilling, part of a wider inquiry into lessons from the crash, will be a constructive attempt to find lessons for the future.

But MPs admit they are likely to question the huge pay-outs to the bank chiefs during the boom years and their failure to anticipate the credit crunch.

'We won’t be asking soft questions,' said one committee member. 'These were two world-class banks, they made huge profits for shareholders and collected a large proportion of those profits for themselves.'

The four executives facing the committee today are Sir Fred Goodwin and Sir Tom McKillop, former chief executive and chairman of RBS, and Andy Hornby and Lord Stevenson of Coddenham, former chief executive and chairman of HBOS. As a result of recent government intervention, the state owns 68% of RBS and 43% of Lloyds Banking Group, the enlarged bank that took over HBOS last autumn.

Financial Times, The Times, Daily Telegraph