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Divide and rule on &#39consultation&#39

The Orwellian plot line that is the CP121 consultation continues apace as organisations and businesses great and small make their submissions.

Entering the debate with an appropriately political sense of timing, comes the Office of Fair Trading, with director general John Vickers endorsing the FSA plans. The OFT started the ball rolling in the first place but it has intervened again to back CP121 in all its detail, including defined payment.

Money Marketing would argue that defined payment distorts competition and restricts choice, particularly when the EU allows Continental commission-charging independents. Still, the OFT seems content.

The Consumers&#39 Association remains true to the independent cause and is adamant that CP121 is detrimental to consumers, as, remarkably, does Lloyds TSB, proving that calling the document a high-street bank stitch-up is too glib by half.

Standard Life is worried about the consumer detriment of multi-ties and does not like defined payment. But Norwich Union is in support. IFAs opposed to CP121 should not underestimate how much of a blow this is, though since the largest IFA stable, Misys, came out in favour of CP121 perhaps it is less significant.

Companies must choose what is best for them and their customers and, if this were a genuine consultation, we would have the basis for a genuine debate. But we fear that greater weight will be given to those who agree and the FSA will say, in its best New Labourspeak, that opinion is divided, it is sticking by its research, and it will press ahead as planned.

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