Bang! What a way to start.
I have been planning to launch a blog commentating on the often troubled relationship between the insurance and retail financial services sectors and our political masters for some time. My idea was to launch it with some gentle comment on the forthcoming legislative programme as the Bills announced in the recent Queen's Speech are published.
Instead, John Greenway produces a thunderbolt by announcing that he will be standing down at the next General Election, having served as an MP since 1987.
This is not an entirely voluntary decision on his part. The Boundary Committee has decided to re-draw the electoral map of Yorkshire and throw most of John's Ryedale constituency into a new seat called Thirsk & Malton. They also moved a chunk of the Vale of York into this new seat which meant that two sitting Conservative MPs were applying for selection to the same seat - John and shadow foreign affairs minister Anne McIntosh. The outcome was that at the selction meeting over the weekend John lost out. He has subequently announced that he will be standing down.
John has been a very, very good friend to the insurance industry during his time in Parliament. As an insurance broker prior to his election he came armed with a ready understanding of the issues facing the industry and he has never slackened in his determination to keep abreast of those issues. He is not afraid to speak up for the industry when he thinks it has a case and, equally, he hasn't been shy it telling it when to get its house in order.
For me, his biggest contribution to furthering the relationship between the industry and Parliament has been as chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Insurance & Financial Services since 1992. When he stands down in three to four years time he will leave a very big gap.
I have always thought John's grasp of the issues facing the industry to be second to none among his fellow MPs. I think the industry often hasn't made sufficient use of him, maybe because some were put off by his long association with the Institute of Insurance Brokers. That has been their loss.
He has been a great supporter of everything that Post Magazine has tried to do to improve the relationship between the industry and Parliament over the last 20 years: much of it couldn't have been achieved without him.
Knowing John, I am sure he will be throwing himself into the debates on pensions, flooding, compensation, regulation and so on with enormous vigour over the next few years.
However, all good things must come to an end.
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