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Equitable Members Action Group

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Documents: 17/11/2009 - Transcript of David Davis's speech at EMAG Nov 4th Demo

David Davis speech to EMAG Rally Central Hall Westminster 4 November 2009

Before I resigned I was the Shadow Home Secretary I used to address slightly different meetings to this - for example I used to go and speak in prison to the prisoners.   Always gave me a problem how to start. It is a privilege to be here didn’t seem quite right and talking to all these rapists and murderers and so on, it is an honour to meet you didn’t seem quite right either. So I hit on a formula after a while talking to prisoners in prison, - it was ‘I am so pleased to see so many of you in here.’  Now after a decade of delay I am so pleased to see so many of you still here. Now the great danger about coming fourth in these things is that everything has already been said.  But as somebody once said to me as I went up to speak on a podium in similar circumstances, `well yes everything has already been said  Mr Davis but not everything has already been said by everybody’ so forgive me if I repeat some of the points that have been made.

The first thing I want to repeat is congratulations to EMAG and Paul Braithwaite for carrying the flame - for carrying the torch for so long in what must have seemed circumstances of enormous adversity. And one of the qualitative things that there is  maybe one of the primary qualitative things that they have achieved is that governments invariably look at issues like this in terms of money, £5 billion in money to be clear about it. But what EMAG has done is made a clear to everybody, the public, parliament and many of the people who I shall mention in a minute, is that this is more about justice than about money and not just justice but also the moral integrity of our government and the moral integrity of our of our financial system.

Now `Justice Denied’ was the title of the last Ombudsman`s report and of course that is the second half of what most of us look on as a  cliché, Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.

But for the 30,000 Equitable Life policyholders who have already died and for the 15 who die every day this is delayed forever but also for those people who have already suffered enormous financial stress and therefore enormous emotional pain, justice delayed is Justice denied forever. We can never get that back - which is why it is quite so hard to keep on going and why of course the Ombudsman put a 2.5 year time limit on giving compensation, proper compensation, to Equitable Life policyholders. I want to stress at this point when I say about being cruel about the government I want to stress that this is very much a non-partisan campaign. You have up here Fabian and the PASC Chairman Mr Wright who are fabulous campaigners on your side (applause).

But what I’m going to say is harsh on the Government and it is harsh on the Government because we need to be harsh on the Government. Regulators have a legal and a moral responsibility. What is that responsibility? It is to protect the investors and protect the policyholders and when they fail to do that, let alone when they fail so seriously and so frequently as our financial regulators failed you, then they have a moral responsibility to protect you after the event and that is why there is no doubt, no argument that actually you should be compensated to sufficient extent to protect you from the horrible financial consequences of what you’ve had to live through.

And there is, as Vince sort of related in a way, there is also a tragic paradox of this in that in the last year the Government has found it necessary - and I don’t argue with them - found it necessary to reward spectacular irresponsibility on the part of bankers when they end up effectively punishing responsibility on the part of ordinary savers. (applause)

 Now I don’t want to repeat what people already said any more than I have but I want to finish with one small point. EMAG has estimated that if we go down the route we are going down now we will end up with only 10% of the losses being compensated at the end of this process. Well if that is true, then Vanni Treves was right to describe this as ‘scandalous’. Charles Thompson Chief Executive of Equitable was right to describe it as ‘stubborn, pig-headed and shallow’, because that is what it is. The Penrose Report, the European Parliament report, the Ombudsman’s Report and the court case have all reiterated time and time again the irrefutable justice of our cause here and so I will finish by saying I call on this Government, and failing that the next Government, to implement the Ombudsman’s report in full, immediately and give compensation to the victims of Equitable Life NOW.