HC Deb 15 March 1976 vol 907 cc929-30
16. Mr. Gordon Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on his inquiries into Capital Life Assurance Society Limited and Capital Management Services.

Mr. Clinton Davis

As I told the hon. Member in my letter of 18th December, inquiries are being made into a number of complaints about the terms on which some policies were sold by the company's agents.

Mr. Wilson

Considering that since the Minister wrote to me on that date a further complaint has been given to him, showing that the constituent concerned paid £125 but received back only £4.96 after receiving a promise from the agent that no money would be lost on the deal, will the hon. Gentleman say what further inquiries are being made into the admission by the agent that the promise had been made on the authority of a senior consultant from the company?

Mr. Davis

All allegations of misleading statements—at least those which occurred after 25th July 1973, following which this became an offence—are receiving the most detailed attention by my Department. It would be premature for me to offer any prognosis about what will happen regarding the complaints. Suffice it to say that they are being dealt with fully and properly, as the hon. Gentleman would expect.

Mr. McCrindle

Would it not help to prevent the recurrence of a situation like this if the Minister were to make it clear that on hardly any occasion is life assurance a satisfactory vehicle for short-term investment? If representatives of any company suggest that it is, a statement from the Minister today may prevent people from falling into the trap mentioned by the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson).

Mr. Davis

The hon. Gentleman will realise that I expressed that view in our Standing Committee debates on insurance matters. There is a great responsibility on those advising the public on insurance matters, which may constitute a most important aspect of saving in the life of any person. Sometimes that burden is not properly and fully carried out, but as a result of the discussions that we have had with the brokers we hope that a better regime will apply for advice offered to the public.