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GORDON HENDERSON MP

FOR SITTINGBOURNE & SHEPPEY

Local Labour MP betrays Equitable Life pensioners

This week Parliament debated a motion condemning the Government’s conduct over Equitable Life and calling for a speedy resolution to an injustice that has dragged on for years and seen the lives of many local people blighted by a scandal not of their making.

The background to the story is that the Parliamentary Ombudsman, Ann Abraham – the independent figure responsible for investigating maladministration on the part of Government departments or other public bodies – last year issued a damning indictment of the Government’s handling of Equitable Life.

Ms Abraham’s report concluded that there was a series of regulatory failures that led to many policyholders suffering losses when the company collapsed and that the Government should make payments to them because of this.

The report identified serial regulatory failures including between 1998 and 2001, when Gordon Brown and the Treasury had responsibility for the regulation of Equitable Life. The report made clear that prompt action could have been taken then which would have avoided the hardship that so many people have subsequently suffered.

Local Conservative Parliamentary Candidate, Gordon Henderson, explained:

“Equitable Life pensioners have spent years seeking the compensation to which they are entitled, however, the Government has frustrated them at every step.

“First ministers claimed the issue was outside the remit of Parliamentary Ombudsman, then when she finally submitted her report they took six months to respond and even rejected some of her findings of injustice. It has taken a judicial review to get the Government to finally accept responsibility.

“Each delay has meant that policyholders have to get by on much reduced pensions and some pensioners will never see justice because sadly they will die before the Government fulfils its obligations.

“Our own Labour MP, Derek Wyatt, promised to support the Equitable Life pensioners and signed a parliamentary Early Day Motion calling for the Government to accept the recommendations of the Ombudsman by compensating policy holders who have suffered a loss.

“However, this week Mr Wyatt voted with the Government to delay payment of that compensation. I think that is a quite shameful betrayal of the many Equitable Life pensioners who live in Sittingbourne & Sheppey.”

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