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GORDON HENDERSON MP

FOR SITTINGBOURNE & SHEPPEY

Equitable Life policyholders

From letters that I receive, and conversations I have with local people, it is becoming increasingly evident that many people feel let down by the present Labour Government. One such group is the policyholders of Equitable Life.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman, an independent arbiter, ruled eighteen months ago that the Government should make payments to policyholders who have suffered losses as a consequence of the Government’s failure to regulate Equitable Life properly.

From the outset, Conservatives in Parliament accepted the Ombudsman’s recommendations that there should be a scheme to deal with the losses suffered by policyholders, that payments should reflect relative and not absolute loss (i.e. take into account market performance), and that the impact on the public purse should be taken into account in the design of a scheme.

Unfortunately Gordon Brown and his ministers have sought at every stage of the process to block, frustrate and delay compensation for Equitable policyholders. Local ASW steelworkers will remember similar Government tactics when they campaigned for justice following the loss of their pensions.

Why is it that the Government was happy to use billions of pounds of taxpayers money to bale out the banking industry, which was so badly regulated that it almost brought Britain to its knees, but cannot bring itself to help pensioners, many of whom have been penalised by similar Government bungling?

Last week the House of Commons debated a Conservative motion calling on the Government to “set a clear timetable for implementing the Ombudsman’s recommendations and remedying the injustice suffered by policyholders”. I noted with surprise and sadness that our local Labour MP, Derek Wyatt, voted against this sensible motion, which he and his colleagues managed to defeat.

Let me assure any Equitable Life policyholders that a Conservative Government is committed to ensuring justice for them.

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