MP Claire Ward has clashed with a campaign group whose members lost up to 50 per cent of their pensions in the near collapse of Equitable Life.

Campaigners from the Equitable Action Group (EAG) Hertfordshire and Middlesex Branch are fighting to recoup the losses incurred by thousands of local pensioners after the failure of the company in 2000.

They argue that clear regulatory failings – highlighted by the High Court – mean the Government should compensate all savers who lost money in the company.

Ministers, however, have so far resisted blanket repayments and are currently awaiting the findings of a Treasury-sponsored review before any compensation scheme is agreed.

Stuart Pole, chairman of EAG Hertfordshire and Middlesex, however, argues that any such scheme is likely to involve an element of means testing and would still leave savers out of pocket.

Repeated attempts to lobby Ms Ward’s support, he added, had proved unsuccessful, with requests for answers often ignored. He said: “We work with seven MPs and Claire Ward has given us the least support of all. She has not lifted a finger to help us. This is bizarre because we are an electoral force.”

But Ms Ward defended her record on the matter. She said: "I am very sympathetic to the situation that Equitable Life policyholders find themselves in and fully understand why they are concerned. “The Government has accepted, and I agree, that there were problems with the regulation of Equitable Life going right back to the early 1990s when the Conservatives were in office.

“Sir John Chadwick [in charge of the Treasury review] is currently assessing ways in which Equitable Life members could be compensated. This is a difficult calculation to make as there are many thousands of savers in various schemes.

“Some will have lost more than others while others will not have experienced any losses at all. Equally, some savers will have lost out not because of a failure to regulate but because the value of investments in their own funds declined rather than increased.

“EMAG have asked me to answer a tick list questionnaire. I have declined as the issues are too complex and demand far more detail than a simple "yes" or "no" answer. I have, though, asked them to publish the more detailed written response that I have made to them.”