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Fury at Treasury minister’s Equitable ‘speech of shame’

Treasury Economic Secretary Ian Pearson has been accused of launching an “extraordinary attack” on the public administration select committee over the Equitable Life debacle.

Pearson was responding to a question in the House of Commons about the progress made by Sir John Chadwick’s review into compensation payments for Equitable Life policyholders.

He criticised the public administration committee for accepting the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s report, which found Gov- ernment departments and regulators guilty of 10 counts of maladministration relating to Equitable Life’s problems.

Tory MP Sir Patrick Cormack accused Pearson of making “one of the most shameful statements” from the dispatch box in many years. Cormack said: “He should be deeply ashamed of himself, because he is bringing the Government and the whole system into disrepute.”

Conservative Shadow Treasury Financial Secretary Mark Hoban said: “That was an extraordinary attack on an officer of the House and a committee of the House and the minister’s comments will be noted across the country. They typify the Government’s approach to the whole issue. At every step on the way, the Govern- ment has sought to block, frustrate and delay justice for Equitable policyholders.”

Pearson said: “I am very disappointed that the public administration committee should choose to obscure the real help that it accepts the Government’s payments’ scheme will deliver under extreme headlines, seemingly driven by an uncritical acceptance of the findings of the ombudsman’s report and by its unjustifiable and irresponsible characterisation of the manner of the Government’s response.”

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