That this House notes that the Ombudsman published her report on Equitable Life in July 2008, that the Government did not make its response until January 2009, and that its rejection of some of her findings was successfully challenged in the High Court; believes that the delays caused by the Government since the publication of the Ombudsman's report have led to further and unnecessary hardship for Equitable Life's policyholders and have done further damage to the UK's savings culture; and calls on the Government to set a clear timetable for implementing the Ombudsman's recommendations and remedying the injustice suffered by policyholders.
There was an amending motion from the Government:
That this House recognises the vital role the Ombudsman plays in public life; reaffirms the duty of Parliament to support the office of the Ombudsman; notes that the High Court ruled that the Government's response to the Ombudsman's recommendations on Equitable Life, its establishment of an ex gratia payment scheme, and the terms of reference given to Sir John Chadwick were a rational response to the Ombudsman's report; notes that Sir John expects to produce his final advice in May; welcomes the Government's commitment to respond with details of a payment scheme within two weeks of receiving this advice; welcomes the Government's determination to establish a scheme administratively quicker and simpler to deliver than that envisaged by the Ombudsman; further notes that to abandon the Chadwick process so close to completion would add delay and hardship for policyholders; welcomes the Government's view that, while it cannot prejudge Sir John's final advice, there is a strong case for policyholders who have passed away to be included in the scheme and that it is neither desirable nor administratively feasible to means-test every individual policyholder; and recognises the impact and significant distress that maladministration and injustice have caused in respect of Equitable Life.
Despite several Labour MPs making speeches very hostile to the Government, with Barry Gardiner (Brent North) being the most forceful and eloquent, the Government motion was passed by 291 votes to 236 votes. Those are the hard facts and anyone who has followed the Equitable Life saga since the mid-1990s will be inclined to let out a sigh of despair and conclude that nothing much has changed and that the 1.5 million policyholders - average age now 79 - are still no nearer knowing what compensation, if any, they will receive. That would be an unduly pessimistic view.
With great sadness we confirm that Sir David Rowland, our former Chairman from 1993 to 1997, has passed away. He played a critical role in safeguarding the future of the Lloyd’s market through perhaps its most difficult period.— Lloyd's (@LloydsofLondon) February 18, 2019
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