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During the debate on the Queen’s Speech in the Commons on December 3rd, the following exchange took place between Daniel Kawczynski, the Tory MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, and Gordon Brown:

Daniel Kawczynski: I am grateful that the Prime Minister has given way. One group of people whom he has not mentioned today is the policyholders of Equitable Life. We recently had a debate in Westminster Hall, which was initiated by the Liberal Democrats. Will the Prime Minister give us a concrete date for when the Government will respond to the parliamentary ombudsman’s report on the issue?

The Prime Minister: There will be a statement before the House rises at Christmas. I can say to the hon. Gentleman that that will be done. [Hon. Members: “Answer!”] There will be a statement before the House rises this Christmas.

The Prime Minister may have made his promise of a statement before Christmas twice, but it did not come. As the Daily Mail reported on Thursday, two ministers had to apologise to the House for failing to respond as promised to the Ombudsman’s report which heavily criticised the Government’s regulatory failings and said that those Equitable Life policyholders who lost out should be compensated.

After a meeting with Harriet Harman, Kawczynski has now secured a new promise of a statement from the Government, this time in writing from Harman herself:
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The first week back after Christmas is of course more than three weeks away – another reason why this recess is too long.

Jonathan Isaby

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