After months of trying to pin down former Treasury financial secretary Mark Hoban, Money Marketing finally got to ask him about the impact of the RDR.
I am told Hoban has been expressing concerns to colleagues about the role of financial advice post-RDR.
But when asked last night whether the changes had damaged savings, Hoban disowned the reforms and pointed the finger squarely at the regulator.
He said: “Let me just correct you; the RDR is nothing to do with me, it was the decision of the independent regulator. I know lots of IFAs hoped I would interfere with the regulator but that is not something I would make a practice of.”
In October 2010 backbench Conservative MPs Mark Garnier and Harriett Baldwin forced a debate on the RDR but it made no difference.
The Treasury select committee called for the RDR to delayed by 12 months but it was ignored.
Thousands of advisers lobbied their MPs, newspapers and regulators about the potential damage it could do but it didn’t change a thing.
Now Hoban, the Treasury minister in charge for most of the period in the run-up to the RDR, says he was powerless to act too.
This is a clear demonstration of a dangerous trend to de-politicise key decisions so ministers do not have to take the blame when it all goes wrong.
We saw it last month when Communities secretary Eric Pickles blamed the Environment Agency for the slow help for flood victims. And in financial services it is endemic.
It started with the independence of the Bank of England in 1998 when the monetary policy committee was formed to set interest rates.
Since the crash it has accelerated with the financial policy committee set up to manage financial stability, including significant powers to cap mortgage loan to values.
The FCA now has a judgement-led approach with huge power to ban products it does not like and publish early warning notices against individuals and firms it is investigating.
Long-term decision making is also being outsourced to bureaucratic committees such as the Turner Commission which created auto-enrolment, the Dilnot Commission on long-term care funding reforms or the Independent Commission on Banking.
All these areas created huge changes for the financial services landscape and the public purse but decisions were only rubber-stamped by elected officials.
Some may argue this type of de-politicised process is healthy and a sensible way to build consensus and independent decision-making.
Lord Turner said his committee was crucial to breaking a political “logjam” and giving politicians the space to act in areas such as raising the state pension age.
Political pressure also had a negative impact on encouraging lax banking regulation in the decade up to the crisis.
Clearly day-to-day financial regulation and some long-term decisions are better made by regulators and officials.
But if major policy decisions on interest rates, financial stability, housing, pension savings, long-term care, retail financial services regulation and banking are left to expert cross-party committees or regulators then how do we hold them to account?
Open political debate and the threat of losing elections is by far the best way of demonstrating accountability and it should not be too diluted by the current worship of technocracy.
When people complain that politicians are “all the same”, this is exactly what they mean. It is time for politicians such as Hoban to start wielding power again and take the consequences of their political choices.
Samuel Dale is political reporter at Money Marketing – you can follow him on Twitter here