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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:59 am on 6th February 2020.

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Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 10:59 am, 6th February 2020

I was on the all-party group on Equitable Life and, like many Members, I had constituents affected by this, but I think the Government have done what is reasonable to put this right. In 2011, they established the Equitable Life payment scheme and have paid out over £1.2 billion to nearly 1 million policyholders. The scheme was wound down in 2016, but there are no plans to reopen this scheme or to revisit any of the previous policy decisions.

I understand that there are some who are disappointed that the taxpayer could not fund the full £4.1 billion relative losses suffered by policyholders, but there are always constraints on Government expenditure. It is worth bearing in mind that, at the point at which this scheme came out, we were running a budget deficit of about £150 billion a year. Within those limits, I think the scheme was reasonable. Up to £1.5 billion tax-free was provided for the scheme because some of the most vulnerable did receive 100% of their losses.