Equitable Life inquiry re-opens

29 January 2009

The Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) today re-opens its inquiry into Equitable Life. This follows the Government’s response earlier this month to a report from the Parliamentary Ombudsman. Watch from 10am.

The Committee will hear in turn from:

  • The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, and her investigation manager, Iain Ogilvie (at about 10am)
  • Equitable Life Assurance Society’s Chief Executive, Charles Thomson and Corporate Services Director, Simon Skinner (at about 10.50am)
  • Equitable Members’ Action Group committee members Paul Braithwaite, John Newman and Colin Slater (at about 11.10am)

The session is likely to focus on the cogency of the Government’s response, on understanding the detail of the Government’s proposals and on exploring how they could be implemented most efficiently, on the implications for the office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, and on the impact on public trust in financial regulation. A further session with a Treasury Minister will be announced shortly.

Background

In July last year, the Ombudsman made ten findings of maladministration against the prudential regulators of Equitable Life and the Government Actuary’s Department. In December, PASC published a report, 'Justice delayed', supporting the Ombudsman and calling on the Government to set up an independent tribunal to pay compensation for losses suffered as a result of official maladministration.

The Government has accepted some of the Ombudsman’s findings, and has apologised for the findings it has accepted. However, the Government has rejected a number of the Ombudsman’s findings, and does not propose to establish a compensation scheme to make good the losses suffered by Equitable Life policyholders—even those that occurred as a result of the maladministration it accepts took place. Instead, the Government has indicated that it will make ex gratia payments to some of the policyholders to make up some of their losses, and there have been suggestions that these payments may be means-tested.

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