SNP MEP Backs Pensions Inquiry

11 January 2006

SNP MEP Alyn Smith is backing a full European Parliament inquiry intothe financial problems at Equitable Life which have seen many peoplein Scotland lose a significant amount of their pensions savings.

Authorities at the European Parliament are due to meet tomorrow(Thursday) to agree the terms of reference and composition of acommittee of inquiry, with final approval due when the full Parliament meets next week in Strasbourg.

The SNP MEP has supported the campaign for an inquiry since hiselection in 2004 and given his backing to campaigners from Scotlandwho petitioned the Parliament to take action.

Commenting ahead of tomorrow's key meeting, Alyn Smith said

"Many investors saw their pension and investment plans thrown intoturmoil because of this collapse and they deserve answers. They madea very strong case to the Parliament's petitions committee last yearand it's only right that this inquiry now goes ahead.

"The UK Government has serious questions to answer about how itsregulatory regime failed to pick up on Equitable's problems in goodtime. The very many investors who've been let down deserve to knowwhat went wrong and I'm glad that the European parliament is takingthese problems seriously and responding with action, not just morewords."

"I look forward to the announcement tomorrow of the terms of thisinquiry and hope it will be able to provide those who lost theirinvestment with some answers."

Note1. The European Parliament's governing Conference of Presidents willdecide on the composition and terms of reference for a committee ofinquiry into alleged inadequate regulation by the UK Government inrelation to Equitable Life.

2. If approved, the full Parliament will vote on the matter next weekin Strasbourg. The SNP supports the establishment of a committee ofinquiry.

3. The petitioners argue that the UK government failed in itsobligation under EU law to adequately regulate Equitable Life in theperiod 1989 - 2000. They note that there has been a 16% cut in thevalue of with-profit pensions and claim that UK regulators failed tospot that the society would be unable to cover terminal bonuses giventhe gap between their assets and liabilities.