City & Business: Cop out on mis-selling

The insurance industry's claims that it has taken until now for its chief executives to realise the seriousness of the pensions mis-selling crisis stretches credulity to breaking point. Consumers, the Government, and the regulators have been pleading with the industry to provide compensation to the estimated 1 million to 2 million people who were wrongly sold personal pensions for nearly four years.

It is true that pension providers have faced some formidable obstacles. The sheer complexity and scale of the problem took everyone by surprise, including the Government and the regulators. But the fact that some pensions providers have managed to meet the deadlines suggests that the rest of the industry could have done much more to help the victims whose lives have been damaged by buying dud retirement schemes.

Helen Liddell and the Blair Government behind her have acted with admirable persistence to right past wrongs. As the settlements mount up, Ms Liddell's task will be to ensure that they are not cosmetic.