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The Equitable Life crisis

Open letter to Ruth Kelly, Financial Secretary to the Treasury

I was concerned to read newspaper reports that the Treasury may not have been co-operating fully with the investigation of the Parliamentary Ombudsman into matters at Equitable Life.

The Treasury must be open and honest about its role in the Equitable Life crises.If Treasury ministers were at fault, then they need to come clean for the sake of the hundreds of thousands of Equitable policyholders.

We are have been concerned that the Treasury could be seeking to exclude its own actions from scrutiny by launching the Penrose inquiry. The inquiry has no timetable for completion and may never be published in full.

It has been reassuring that the Parliamentary Ombusdman has launched his own, albeit more restricted, inquiry but the progress of this is still dependent on the results of the Penrose inquiry and on the co-operation of the Treasury.

A key piece of evidence that Lord Penrose needs to investigate is the production of the Treasury&#39s letter of December 18, 1998, giving support to the differential bonus policy being pursued by Equitable that was an important contributor to its difficulties.

Can you give me your reassurance that the Treasury has been co-operating fully with the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Penrose Inquiry and that you are doing all that is possible to bring both these inquiries to a speedy conclusion?

James Clappison

Shadow Paymaster General


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