The independent action group for current and ex Equitable Life policyholders, funded by contributions.

Equitable Members Action Group

Equitable Members Action Group Limited, a company limited by guarantee, number 5471535 registered in the UK


28 October '03 - Minutes of the 33rd committee meeting of EMAG

Held at:   National Liberal Club, London
Present:   Rodney Allen, Paul Braithwaite, Chris Carnaghan, Tom Lake, Betty McCann, Mike Neal, Leslie Seymour and Colin Slater (in the chair).
Apologies:   Alex Henney.
  1. The Treasurer's report for September and October was approved and signed.

  2. The committee signed a formal indemnity to TL and PB for the committee to share equally the liability for legal costs currently being incurred in the progression of application for a judicial review against the Ombudsman's Report. The committee agreed to review progress once a written response from the Ombudsman has been received, after seeking advice from EMAG solicitors.

  3. TL, CS and PB reported on their 23rd October on-the-record meeting with the Parliamentary Ombudsman. The most important outcome was the agreement of the PO that - contrary to her Report's conclusion - that she would is now prepared to consider extending her enquiries to the period prior to 1999, once Lord Penrose's Report has been published and responded to by the government. She made no other concessions, although her lawyer undertook to provide further information and argument on several contentious points. The minutes of that meeting have been submitted to the PO and will subsequently be posted on the EMAG website.

    The weak points of the PO's Report were reviewed, including, in particular, her refusal to accept that the Government Actuary's Department - to which a great deal of official regulation was "outsourced" by the FSA and previous regulators and is referred to in her Report 400 times - comes within her remit.

  4. Prompted by advance notice of a question at the AGM later in the evening, it was agreed that the committee should consider, and where appropriate revise, EMAG's objectives. Several constructive suggestions were made by committee members and CC will draft a revised set of objectives for circulation.

  5. The agenda for the AGM, to be held later in the evening, was agreed.

  6. A letter from EMAG member John Macleod to Charles Thomson on the question of the propriety of recent cuts in WP annuity payments, allegedly contrary to the Compromise of February 2002, was noted. If Mr Macleod's view were to prevail it would mean that ELAS would become rapidly insolvent.

  7. The continuing valuable work being undertaken by Rodney Allen - seeking to establish that the House of Lords' decision on ring-fencing has been incorrectly interpreted by the FSA - was discussed. RA is preparing a short paper on the topic for early publication, prospectively in the Financial Times.

  8. MN highlighted the lack of transparency from ELAS - notably on how the WP funds are invested - as to how WP annuity values and cuts are calculated. EMAG will continue pressing ELAS and the FSA on this.

  9. The agonisingly slow progress of the various rectification schemes and of the settlement of complaints against ELAS was noted. It appears that the FOS and FSA are working closely with ELAS to prevent a rush of settlements threatening ELAS's solvency. PB will write to the FSA deploring the delays and absence of support for policyholders entitled to various rectifications.

  10. It was agreed that the commentaries on the PO's report already produced by committee members would be appropriate for members of the Commons select committee on Public Administration, prior to the PO's appearance before them on 27th November.

  11. PB confirmed that a debate on ELAS, initiated by the Conservatives, will take place in Westminster Hall on the morning of Tuesday 4th November. EMAG members will be encouraged, at the AGM and via the web site, to write to their MPs to request their participation in this debate.

  12. Fundraising was discussed, and it was agreed that an appeal for contributions towards fund replenishment from members should be launched after the AGM.

Next Meeting: Evening of Wednesday 10th December 6.30pm for 7.00pm, at the National Liberal Club, Embankment, London. Any EMAG member wishing to attend, please E mail: emagpr@yahoo.com

Paul Braithwaite
18th November, 2003