Lloyd's losses by 12 Tory MPs estimated at pounds 6m: Hain condemns 'bailing out' of Conservatives

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Indy Politics
TWELVE Conservative MPs who are members of Lloyd's, and who refused to disclose their insurance syndicates in the Register of Members' Interests, have made potential losses estimated at pounds 6m, according to a parliamentary motion put down yesterday by a Labour MP.

In a rare step, Betty Boothroyd, the Speaker, refused to allow a breakdown of the losses to be included even though the motion had been approved by the table office.

Peter Hain, Labour MP for Neath, has tabled an Early Day Motion, which carries parliamentary privilege, to make public an estimate of the MPs' losses.

The motion added that the decision to keep secret the numbers of the syndicates 'alarms those both inside and outside this House that a 'special arrangement' is being made to alleviate the liabilities of Hon Members alone (therefore avoiding possible bankruptcies and subsequent by-elections).'

The motion also referred to an earlier allegation relating to Richard Needham, Conservative MP for Wiltshire North, who is a trade minister.

The motion said: 'That this House, recalling the Times report of 22 January 1986 that a Conservative minister (the Hon Member for North Wiltshire) had heavy losses paid for by parties within Lloyd's, and believing that Hon Members should not be given beneficial treatment unavailable to their constituents driven to destitution, bankruptcy and even suicide by similar losses, condemns the decision of at least 12 Hon Members to refuse to disclose their membership of Lloyd's syndicates in the 1994 Register of Members' Interests.'

The total figure in the Hain motion - pounds 6,063,428 - is based on an analysis by a former underwriter who is a Labour Party supporter. The motion says the calculations are based on information from Lloyd's Blue Books and the independent Chatset League tables estimating potential Lloyd's losses.

The 12 MPs identified in the motion disclosed in the register that they were members of Lloyd's but did not supply details of the syndicates from which it is possible to estimate losses. A total of 50 MPs are members of Lloyd's.

The MPs identified are David Ashby (Leicestershire North West), Sir Richard Body (Holland and Boston), Hartley Booth (Finchley) Michael Colvin (Romsey and Waterside), Sir Edward Heath (Bexley and Sidcup), Sir Ralph Howell (Norfolk North), David Hunt, Secretary of State for Employment (Wirral West), Roger Knapman (Stroud), Richard Needham (Wiltshire North), Anthony Steen (South Hams), David Tredinnick (Bosworth) and Sir Jerry Wiggin (Weston-Super-Mare).

Mr Hain told the Independent: 'Given that many outsider Lloyd's names have suffered destitution, bankruptcy and even committed suicide there will be real outrage if any MPs were to be accorded special privileges as part of either an open or tacit understanding between Lloyd's and the Government. Either everybody should be bailed out or nobody should.'

The all-party select committee on Members' Interests is discussing what action if any to take against the 12 MPs who have so far refused to disclose their syndicates.

Angela Eagle, a Labour member, said: 'The important thing is they have defied a resolution of the House by refusing to disclose the syndicates and that cannot be allowed to stand.'