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MPs question role of Civil Service in debacle

MPs are demanding to know the role played by long-time civil servant turned regulator Martin Roberts in the Equitable Life debacle.

Roberts was head of life insurance with the DTI from 1989 until 1992. He moved to another role in the department until 1998 but then became director of insurance at the Trea sury in 1998 before moving on to take charge of insurance industry matters at the FSA.

LibDem MP Vincent Cable wants to know why Roberts and his colleagues did not act sooner in the early 1990s when signs were pointing to a low-inflation period.

The move follows Sha dow economic secretary Howard Flight writing to the FSA, asking why it did not take action.

Flight believes the FSA simply took the word of the Treasury that no further action was necessary.

Cable points out that Roberts was in charge in both these instances.

Cable says: “There are questions that need to be answered.

“Why was it that Mr Roberts and his chums did not pick up on that we were heading into a low inflationary period?

“Why were the DTI and the Trea sury, as the then regulators, not more aware of the dangers that existed?” The FSA says questions of this sort will be answered in its internal inquiry.

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