Yet another Labour let-down on Equitable Life thanks to Newcastle East MP

October 21, 2009 6:15 PM

Labour MPs voted down a Lib Dem motion in the House of Commons this afternoon which was also backed by the Conservatives, calling for the Government to accept the recommendations of the Parliamentary Ombudsman over the shambolic handling of the Equitable Life pensions mis-selling scandal. The vote was narrowly lost 294-269 after the Labour Chief Whip, Newcastle East MP Nick Brown, instructed Labour MPs to vote against the motion, betraying the interests of hundreds of thousands of policyholders including many in Newcastle East.

The Government lost a high court judicial review last week, opening the way for affected policyholders to claim compensation for maladministration. However. Treasury minister Liam Byrne, despite admitting some Governmental responsibility for failures, announced that compensation will only be forthcoming for those who have suffered "disproportionate impact" from maladministration, rather than the Parliamentary Ombudsman's recommendation that compensation should be awarded to those who have suffered straightforward "relative loss". He has also refused to announce when the compensation scheme will start.

Lib Dem parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East Greg Stone said "I have followed the Equitable Life affair very closely and have corresponded with numerous local constituents who have been very badly affected financially by this scandal. Nationwide more than 30,000 people have died without receiving either their pensions or compensation.

"Despite the ombudsman recommending the Government take steps to address their culpability in this matter, Nick Brown and the Labour whips have seemingly instructed Labour MPs to vote against accepting the advice of the independent watchdog and in doing so he has betrayed the interests of his constituents. His actions are shameful and yet again prove that he is more interested in safeguarding the interests of Gordon Brown than the people he is elected to represent. It is time Newcastle East had a new MP who will put the interests of local people first.

"It is especially disappointing that Nick Brown appears to spend more time surfing the Internet from his parliamentary office - including paying 24 visits to this website in the past 48 hours - than speaking up for Newcastle East's residents."