MEET WITH EQUITABLE LIFE ACTION GROUPS
"FSA REPORT MUST BE PUBLISHED IN FULL"
"SEEKING SPECIAL COMMONS DEBATE IN NEW SESSION"
The Scottish National Party's Westminster Spokesperson on Trade &
Industry Mr Mike Weir MP today [Monday] met with Mr Paul Braithwaite,
Chairman of the Equitable Members' Action Group (EMAG); and Ms Liz
Kwantes, Chair of the Equitable Life Members' Help Group, in order to
discuss how the campaign for justice for Equitable Life policyholders
can be taken forward in the new session of the House of Commons.
The values of pension funds, built up by nearly one million
policyholders, were slashed by up to 16 per cent.
Speaking after the meeting in his office in the Commons, Mr Weir said:
"This is a hugely important issue, affecting nearly one
million policy holders and their families. And there are dangers
that the entire pensions industry could be damaged - especially in the
context of tumbling stock markets - which is a particular threat to
the Scottish financial sector.
"The Penrose Inquiry is a step forward in establishing what
went wrong over a period of time, which should learn lessons for the
industry but will not do anything to address the plight of Equitable
"And the fact that the hearings will not be held in public, that
it cannot compel witnesses to give evidence, and that it reports to
the Treasury - who themselves are possibly culpable - are substantial
"I am also extremely concerned that the Financial Services
Authority report on its regulation of Equitable Life will be buried by
being passed to the Penrose Inquiry, which may keep it under wraps for
another year or more. The Treasury must publish the FSA report in full
as soon as they receive it,
so that policyholders at least have access to this information as they
consider the company's proposed compromise deal.
"It is high time that the role of the Treasury in this entire
debacle was subject to proper independent scrutiny, and that is why I
am seeking a special parliamentary debate on the Equitable Life crisis
at the start of the new session.
"Treasury Ministers need to come before the House of Commons and
explain the failure of the Government's regulation of the pensions
industry in the past, and what they intend to do for the Equitable
Life policyholders now."