One of the earliest and most persistent champions of statutory regulation of insurance brokers, former Tory MP Sir John Page, died on Friday, aged 89.
Jack Page, as he was known, was MP for Harrow West from 1960 to 1987 and although he never held ministerial office, he did achieve a series of legislative success as one of the more effective backbenchers. One of those opened the way for the modern era of intermediary regulation.
When he won a place high up the ballot for Private Members' Bills in 1976, Jack Page chose to adopt a bill being promoted by some of the insurance intermediary trade associations to introduce a system of broker registration. Actively supported by another Conservative MP, the late Sir Robert McCrindle, he secured government backing for it and, despite some determined opposition from other Conservative MPs congenitally opposed to any form of regulation, guided it to the statute book as the Insurance Brokers (Registration) Act 1977. This led to the creation of the Insurance Brokers Registration Council.
It marked the first steps down the road towards the full blown statutory regulation we have today under the Financial Services Act but the fundamental flaw of the 1977 Act was that it only regulated the title – insurance broker - and not the function, thus enabling firms that didn't want to submit to the rigors of regulation to carry trading as insurance consultants, intermediaries and so on. The passing of the Act also proved the catalyst for the four main broker trade associations that competed (and sometimes co-operated) in the mid-70s to sink their differences and merge to promote the new regulation. Thus, the British Insurance Brokers' Association was born. Jack Page served as a vice-president of BIBA for many years.
It is a cruel irony that Jack Page should die at the end of a month that started with a further fragmentation of BIBA.
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