§ Mr. John Greenway
To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to his answer to the hon. member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) on 29 March, Official Report, columns 762–64, what developments there have been since 29 March concerning Equitas; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Nelson
Since I announced the authorisation of Equitas on 29 March 1996, Official Report, columns 762–63, further work has taken place on the level of liabilities which Equitas will reinsure and on the assets available to cover them. As a result, the expected opening balance sheet of Equitas will be significantly stronger than originally foreseen, while the increase in provisions for 1992 and prior liabilities required will be about £1.2 billion rather than the £1.5 billion or more 298W previously envisaged. These developments improve the prospects that Equitas will be able to pay off its liabilities in full as they fall due.