The Conservatives have for the first time vowed to offer compensation to Equitable Life investors if the Government is found to be at fault and they are re-elected.
In a letter to Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abraham, shadow financial secretary Andrew Tyrie said that the party should award compensation if maladministration was found.
He is asking the Ombudsman to reopen her inquiry into Equitable, calling on her to investigate whether the Government and the Government Actuary's Department were guilty of maladministration.
Tyrie has written to Treasury financial secretary Ruth Kelly criticising her for claiming that retrospection would be a barrier to the Ombudsman looking at the GAD again. Kelly has since reversed her view.
The news follows the Equitable Life Action Group's victory in the High Court last week. The group have won the right to challenge the Ombudsman's decision to dismiss a test case.
Tyrie wants Abraham to work with Lord Penrose on a reinvestigation. He believes his involvement would help her to conduct her inquiry more quickly. Tyrie wants any further delay minimised to avoid any further cost to the Equitable victims.
He says: “I know of no advisory Government department, the accountability for which does not flow through a minister. In this case, the responsibility for the GAD lies clearly with the Treasury. The GAD is therefore not independent but subordinate to the Treasury, a department maladministration of which may be subject to investigation by you.”