Every time the (relatively) new Economic Secretary to the Treasury Ed Balls speaks to an industry event he impresses. His latest platform was yesterday's Institute of Insurance Brokers annual Parliamentary Reception.
He spoke with authority on a range of issues that are of concern to insurers and brokers, including the regulation of travel agents, the shortcomings of non-advised sales and the role of the Financial Services Authority. It is, of course, easy to sound knowlegeable when a team of officials write your speech – but he didn't have a script or any notes. He knew what he was talking about and spoke in terms that showed he had an instinctive appreciation of the role the insurance industry plays in modern society and economic life.
Guests at the reception were left struggling to remember the last time the insurance industry had a minister responsible for it who seemed to have such a genuine interest in them and a real sympathy for some of their concerns. One or two with longer memories and involvement with our political masters suggested that you had to go right back to the mid-1990s and the last Conservative government when the insurance industry was still looked after by the Department of Trade and Industry and Jonathan Evans was the minister in charge of the industry. He, of course, exited the Commons in the 1997 Labour landslide but found his way into the European Parliament where he is now an influential figure on many of the economic committees.
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