Nick Herbert calls on Prime Minister to honour promise on Equitable Life

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has joined calls for the Government to make a statement on compensation for Equitable Life policy holders before MPs leave for their Christmas break.

A large number of West Sussex residents have been affected by the near collapse of the life insurance company in 2000.

The House of Commons is scheduled to rise on Thursday (18 December), but still has not received a statement on Equitable Life which was promised "before the House rises this Christmas" by Gordon Brown on 3 December.

In spite of this pledge, the Leader of the Commons, Harriet Harman, announced last week that there would be no statement until Parliament returned on 12 January.

The Equitable Members Action Group has accused the Treasury of a "strategy of shameless stalling."

Nick Herbert has signed a motion tabled by the Conservative Leader, David Cameron, calling for the Commons' adjournment to be delayed until the statement promised by the Prime Minister is made.

Equitable Life was forced to close its doors to new customers eight years ago when it found itself unable to honour its existing policies.  Since then, policy holders have seen the value of their pensions plummet, with many forced to postpone their retirement or even sell their homes as a result.

In July this year, Ann Abraham, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, published a report which highlighted "serial regulatory failure" by the Government departments and regulators that should have protected Equitable Life's customers.

The report said that the Government should set up a compensation scheme and apologise to policy holders.

The Conservative Party has called on the Government to admit its responsibility, issue the apology demanded by the Ombudsman and create the payment scheme.

Nick Herbert commented: "I have received a large number of letters and e-mails from constituents about Equitable Life, one of whom told me that he had lost half of his anticipated income.  It is upsetting to hear such stories of personal loss, but what makes the situation even worse is the continued uncertainty over the Government's position on compensation and its refusal to admit responsibility."

Mr Herbert added: "I was in the Commons when Gordon Brown said that the Government would make an announcement before Christmas.  My constituents are entitled to expect the Prime Minister to keep his word.  There is plenty of time for a statement, but I'm afraid that the Government are just trying to avoid it."

Ends

 

Notes for Editors

1. For a full transcript of the Prime Minister's response in the House of Commons on 3 December, visit http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm081203/debtext/81203-0007.htm#08120351000655.

2. For the website of the Equitable Members Action Group, visit http://www.emag.org.uk/.

Ed Barker