Thousands in West of Scotland could get Equitable Life compensation

Jo Swinson has coordinated joint action by cross-party MPs on Equitable Life


A cross-party group of MPs has written to Alistair Darling today, calling on him to respond to the recommendations made in the wake of Equitable Life’s near-collapse.

Over 17,000 people across the West of Scotland could be paid compensation if the Government agrees to the recommendations made by Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abraham.

A four-year investigation by the Ombudsman led her to recommend in July that the Government apologise to Equitable Life policyholders and establish a fund to pay compensation to those who lost out. So far the Government has made no official response.

Commenting, Jo Swinson, who organised the letter, said:

“The Government has continually sought to delay the actions needed to bring the Equitable Life saga to a close.

“After eight years and 13 reports, ministers must realise that Equitable Life policyholders aren’t going to give up and go away.

“We are talking about large numbers of people here – an estimated 17,600 in the West of Scotland and 722 in my constituency of East Dunbartonshire alone.

“Over 30,000 Equitable Life policyholders have died since the events of 2000. For them, justice delayed has been justice denied.

“The time has come for the Government to face up to its responsibilities to Equitable Life policyholders.

“For the sake of justice for policyholders, for the credibility of the Parliamentary Ombudsman and for the confidence of those saving for retirement, the Chancellor must now name the date on which the Government will make its response.”

Earlier this week, Jo Swinson led a debate on Equitable Life at Westminster. Following the debate, Jo coordinated today’s joint action by cross-party MPs, urging the Chancellor to accept the recommendations made by the Ombudsman.

The Equitable Members Action Group (EMAG) estimates that there is an average of 800 Equitable Life policyholders per Westminster Parliament constituency. Taken across 22 constituencies making up the West of Scotland, that equates to 17,600 policyholders. This figure excludes others who were members of group schemes with Equitable Life, of which there were about 1,000,000 members across the UK.

Full text of the letter to Alistair Darling:

Rt Hon Alistair Darling MP

Chancellor of the Exchequer

HM Treasury

1 Horseguards Road

London SW1A 2HQ

28 November 2008

Dear Alistair,

Response to Parliamentary Ombudsman on Equitable Life

The debate held in Westminster Hall on Tuesday of this week demonstrated the breadth and depth of feeling among Members of Parliament over the need for the Government to act on Equitable Life.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman was very clear earlier in the year about the action that the Government needs to take, in terms of an apology and compensation to Equitable Life policyholders. There is now a common feeling that the Government must not delay the process of closure on Equitable Life any longer. This report must not merely be a continuation of the same approach that has been adopted for the past eight years.

The Government promised to respond to Ann Abraham’s report by the autumn. That deadline is clearly not going to be kept. During the debate, the Minister repeated that the response would be delivered “shortly”. By delaying its response, the Government angers Equitable Life policyholders, adds to the postbag of Members of Parliament on the subject and continues to reinforce the view that it is part of the problem, rather than the solution.

On what date does the Government plan to provide a response to the Parliamentary Ombudsman?

Because of the widespread concern that exists among MPs and their constituents, a meeting with yourself or one of your Ministerial colleagues to allow further discussion of this issue would be most welcome. Please give an indication of whether this is something you would be willing to participate in.

Yours Sincerely,

Jo Swinson MP

Vince Cable MP

Jeremy Browne MP

Lorely Burt MP

Andrew Stunell MP

Mark Williams MP

Annette Brooke MP

Greg Mulholland MP

Alan Reid MP

John Leech MP

Susan Kramer MP

Dr Ian Gibson MP

Bob Spink MP

Daniel Kawczynski MP

Edward Garnier MP

Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP

Anne Milton MP

Crispin Blunt MP

Dan Rogerson MP

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