Lloyd's planning emergency levy

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David Coleridge, the chairman of LLoyd's of London, told MPs last night that the society's council is to raise an emergency levy on all names to meet the losses of those who default - without waiting for a vote on the issue at the extraordinary general meeting at the end of the month.

The decision will anger supporters of a resolution, tabled for the meeting on 27 July, which calls for cancellation of the 1.66 per cent levy to boost the organisation's Central Fund.

More than a 100 dissident names petitioned for the meeting last month.

Another resolution states that the petitioners have 'no confidence that the present members are acting in the best interests of names and the Lloyd's insurance market', and it calls for the entire Lloyd's governing council to be replaced as quickly as possible.

Using the central fund to relieve the hardship of an estimated 5,000 names who will be unable to meet their losses, amounts to spreading risk and is contrary to the rules of the market.

But, speaking after yesterday's meeting with Tory backbenchers, Mr Coleridge said: 'We are working to do it immediately. We need to do it. We have a timetable to do it by.'

He went on: 'I think the extraordinary general meeting will be too late for it and life must go on. It's a postal vote and we need to have all our solvency certificates into the Department of Trade and Industry by the end of August. The vote takes a month. And it (the EGM) is only a request. We must say we're very sorry, we've already done it. My council have instructed me to do it and I'm doing it.'

The extraordinary general meeting will be names' second chance to voice criticisms of their leadership this summer, following last month's lengthy - and at times acrimonious - annual general meeting. But Mr Coleridge was given a relatively calm reception by MPs yesterday.

Spencer Batiste, Conservative MP for Elmet, said: 'His reputation seems to have improved as a consequence of the way he handled the annual general meeting.'

Lloyd's attack, page 22