She is very able, fluent and persuasive. But she is on a sticky wicket with her report of Equitable Life. In 2005 she said that she was not going to re-investigate the losses suffered by EL’s customers because she did not want to raise ‘false hopes.’
‘Isn’t that precisely what you’ve done?’ I asked her. My position is clear. Many of my constituents lost a great deal of money through the EL debacle. I will fight to get them compensated. Two members of the seven on the committee declared their own financial interests. Probably over 150 MPs have suffered losses. But I am fearful that news of the Ombudsman’s new report has convinced large numbers that a bonanza is on the way.
Some believe they will get enough to pay them the sums they expected their pensions to pay 15 years ago. Sadly there is no chance of that. Nearly all pensions have lost 50% of their expected value because of market turbulence. EL pensions maturing this year are only a small amount less that those paid out to untroubled companies like Standard Life.
The only compensation that can be paid is that lost by incompetence and maladministration. A rough calculation of the proportion of blame would by EL 70%. EL’s auditors 10%, EL’s actuaries 10% and the regulators 10%. Ann Abrahams has no authority to report on anyone but the regulators. It would be totally unreasonable for the regulators to cough up the full compensation. It will come, of course, from the pockets of taxpayers. It would be grossly unfair if the taxpayers were saddled with providing free insurance for the customers of all failed companies that may have been reckless and incompetent.
No Government can land taxpayers with bills of £4 billion for commercial failures. If an appraisal is made of the regulators’ responsibility it is likely to be the 10% share or somewhere similar. The ‘False Hopes’ are alive and rampant on EL message boards.
I fear it will all end is disappointment.
I was taken the place of the usual Labour contributor Wayne David. He has been promoted to the oblivion of junior ministerial office. My sparring partner was retiring Welsh LibDem leader Mike German.
Patrick and Mike were both eerily nervous about the coming Obama victory. No pollsters, since the Dewey election of the forties, have got a result so wrong that the Republicans would have a hope of victory. A pall of failure hangs over McCain and Palin.
Mike refused to say whom he voted for in the other presidential election for the Caudillo of the LibDems. His faint praise and body language suggest that Mike will be found weeping quietly in a corner if Estonia’s pride is elected. Lembit modestly describes himself as an ‘inspired’ person in his web message.
Do the party take seriously an MP who is heckled in the Commons with cuckoo noises? At the LibDem conference during the debate on housing, a subject that Lembit lead one, he was outside the hall parading on his motorised pogo stick.
He has invited ridicule with his love life and his relentless pursuit of the title of top media tart. He has ability and charm and certainly appeals to young voters. Best if he offers his services to Radio Two. I understand there is a vacancy there.
Heard at lunchtime on BBC Wales ‘If my friend was alive today, he would be turning in his grave.’
The Splendid Gwent Police publication Guardian has a signed editor note that starts, ‘ Gwent has it’s share…’ A case for the apostrophe police