Banks controlled by British taxpayers are offering mortgages to first-time buyers in the Irish Republic at half the rate that they are available in the UK.

Halifax, part of the Lloyds Banking Group, is charging 2.74% for a two-year fixed-rate deal to first-time buyers in Dublin. A five-year fixed-rate deal would cost borrowers in its home town of Edinburgh 6.14%. Royal Bank of Scotland is charging 2.95% for a new mortgage in Ireland; in the UK, it charges 5.99% for a similar product.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of TaxPayers' Alliance, a lobby group, said: 'It seems bizarre and unfair that Halifax and RBS, which have in effect been propped up by British taxpayers, are offering worse deals to British customers than those elsewhere.'

The Times