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19 Jan 2001 : Column WA147

Written Answers

Friday, 19th January 2001.

Equitable Life

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of Equitable Life's marketing strategy, including its sponsorship of the television comedy series "Frasier", in the period subsequent to the House of Lords' ruling on guaranteed annuity rates, the Financial Services Authority's regulation and supervision of the company has been adequate to protect the interests of policyholders.[HL190]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: As my honourable friend the Economic Secretary said in a Written Answer in the House of Commons on 19 December (Official Report, col. 161W), the Government have noted the statements from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and Equitable Life on 8 December that Equitable Life would close to new business with immediate effect. We welcome the fact that the FSA and the society are working closely together to protect the interests of policyholders.

The FSA intends to prepare a report on the events leading to the closure of Equitable Life to new business. The report will cover both the FSA's role as prudential regulator and its exercise of its functions

19 Jan 2001 : Column WA148

under the Financial Services Act 1986. The report is likely to take some months to complete and will be published.

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the context of the Prudential's withdrawal from the purchase of Equitable Life, to what extent, if at all, the Financial Services Authority considered the possibility of appropriate transfers of funds from the Prudential's orphan estate as a means of facilitating that purchase.[HL191]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The commercial sensitivity of information obtained by the regulator in the course of carrying out statutory functions is subject to statutory restrictions on disclosure of information.

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans, if any, they have to establish a Treasury inquiry under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 into the supervision of Equitable Life by the Financial Services Authority.[HL192]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: As my honourable friend the Economic Secretary said in a debate in Westminster Hall on 19 December (Official Report, col. 56WH), the FSA intends to prepare a report on the events leading to the closure of Equitable Life to new business. The report will cover both the FSA's role as prudential regulator and its exercise of its functions under the Financial Services Act 1986. The report is likely to take some months to complete and will be published.



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