Sir Robert's Speech Demanding Justice for Equitable Life Policy Holders

Robert Atkins, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. – Mr President, in 2004 the Committee on Petitions received two petitions on behalf of policyholders of Equitable Life throughout the EU. At my behest and with the support of many colleagues across the political spectrum, Parliament set up an enquiry into Equitable Life under the distinguished chairmanship of my honourable friend, Mrs McGuiness. We heard from some of the thousands who suffered financial and emotional stress in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany and many other countries. We questioned officials, advisers, journalists and even – unsatisfactorily – the Chief Executive, but representatives of the British regulators and the British Government were conspicuous by their absence.

We discovered the incorrect implementation of EU law by the UK Government; structural weaknesses within, and failure to communicate between, the UK and other Member States’ financial regulatory systems; the failure of the European Commission to monitor adequately the implementation of EU law by individual Member States; the dubious actions of the staff and senior management of Equitable Life; the ineffectiveness of the financial redress system available to victims; and dereliction of duty and the failure to respect policyholders’ reasonable expectations by those regulators.

We made a number of recommendations, which, as the Commissioner said, amount to some 47. Chief amongst them is the belief that the transposition of the Third Life Directive was inadequate and, therefore, action needs to be taken in that respect. We need to ensure that citizens of the EU have redress for grievances throughout the EU, not just in the country in which the company is based.

But, above all, I demand, and my colleagues in the Conservative Party demand, that the British Government make recompense to those policyholders who have suffered because of the failure of the regulatory system and of the ministers involved.

Top ↑