11 MPs refuse to list Lloyd's investments

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The Independent Online
TWO LABOUR MPs protested yesterday that 11 members were in breach of Commons rules by not disclosing their dealings as investors in the Lloyd's insurance market.

Dale Campbell-Savours, MP for Workington, said the 11 included Sir Edward Heath, the former prime minister and Father of the House; David Hunt, Secretary of State for Employment; and Richard Needham, Minister of State for Trade and Industry.

The row was provoked by the publication of the register of MPs' business interests, which for the first time requires them to disclose involvement in Lloyd's.

Bob Cryer, Labour MP for Bradford South and a member of the interests committee, called on Betty Boothroyd, the Speaker, to encourage Tony Newton, Leader of the Commons, to put down a resolution to make sure the 11 were 'brought to book.' Mr Cryer said he understood there had been concerted attempts by members of Lloyd's not to provide information to the House.

Sir Gerard Vaughan, who refused to allow details of the insurance syndicates he had invested in to be published, said: 'It is a matter of principle. They might as well ask me for details of my mortgage or my overdraft at the bank. It is going too far.'

Sir Gerard, MP for Reading East, and a former minister, gave details of his syndicates in a private letter to the registrar, but refused to allow them to be published. The committee criticised the other Tory MPs who had failed to comply with the committee, and warned them 'to do so without delay'.

Some members who have chosen not to reveal the extent of their involvement have suffered large losses.

Winston Churchill, Conservative MP for Davyhulme, has suffered a loss of pounds 3,422 for each pounds 10,000 of insurance business traded on his behalf on syndicate 448. Sir Edward Heath has suffered losses of pounds 3,845 for the same sum on syndicate 552, as have Mr Hunt ( pounds 3,598 on syndicate 561) and Sir Gerard Vaughan ( pounds 3,422 on syndicate 448).

The information has been obtained from the Lloyd's of London 'Blue Book' which details individuals' involvement in the troubled insurance market, and internal figures circulating in the market.

Sir Gerard has been lobbying extensively over the past few years for financial help for the thousands of members hit by pounds 5.5bn of losses. Many have been brought to the brink of ruin by the scale of the losses and at least seven underwriting members have committed suicide.

Paul Marland, Conservative MP for West Gloucestershire, is one of the hardest hit in political circles, but unlike Sir Gerard, he decided to disclose the extent of his involvement in the register. Mr Marland has suffered losses of at least pounds 10,000 for each pounds 10,000 of business traded on his behalf through his involvement in syndicates once managed by the Gooda Walker underwriting agency.

The new register, page 7