Minister Noonan Opening Remarks to Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach

11.05.17

Minister Noonan Opening Remarks to Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach

Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (Amendment) Bill 2014 [PMB] 

11th May 2017

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

  • I fully understand the intention behind the Sinn Fein Private Members Bill which seeks to provide for the strengthening of the functions of the Financial Services Ombudsman, the consumer complaints procedure and related matters.
  • While in overall terms I support the intention behind the initiative, the provisions as set out, in my view, do not fully achieve that aim.
  • I did not oppose the Private Members Bill at second stage as I agreed in principle with what Deputy Doherty is trying to achieve which is to improve the legislation for consumers.
  • However, my Bill to amalgamate the Financial Service Ombudsman and the Pensions Ombudsman, was published yesterday. It is more comprehensive and provides for a number of improvements to the existing legislation. It amalgamates the offices of the Financial Services Ombudsman and Pensions Ombudsman, it consolidates and updates the legislation, including the extension of the time limits for complaints.
  • With the agreement of the House, I hope to take Second Stage of this Bill in the Dáil by the end of the month.
  • The Government Bill has the potential to strengthen the functions of the Financial Services Ombudsman under the new body, the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman, and to improve the consumer complaint procedure and experience for consumers of both pensions and financial services.
  • I am requesting Sinn Fein to work with me and my officials so that we can focus on the Bill I have proposed, which is broadly in line with the principles underpinning Deputy Doherty’s Bill.
  • If Deputy Doherty is not open to accepting this offer, I am agreeable in the interest of achieving the best result for the consumer, to working with you on your Bill, bearing in mind that it has a more limited impact.
  • However in doing so I wish to point out that if the Government Bill published yesterday is enacted it will repeal Part VIIB of the Central Bank Act, 1942. Deputy Doherty’s Bill amends that part of the 1942 Act so my Bill, if enacted and as it stands, will render Deputy Doherty’s Bill ineffective and will repeal the provisions this Bill is proposing to amend.
  • This will be in accordance with the recommendations of the pre-legislative scrutiny committee.
  • In working with you, in incorporating your Bill into mine, I can assure you that the principles of your Bill will be retained in the Government Bill.  The Deputy will agree I’m sure that there are a finite number of resources in the public service and that the taxpayer is entitled to the best use of all such resources. It is for this reason that I urge the Deputies to enable us concentrate fully on progressing the larger more comprehensive Bill through the Oireachtas which will benefit consumers.    
  • I note that Deputy McGrath has proposed amendments. As these are standalone proposed amendments, these can be dealt with in the debate on their merits in the ordinary way.
  • If we are to proceed now I must highlight that there are some sections in this Bill that I can broadly support – Sections 1, 2 (as amended),     3 (as amended), and perhaps 6. However, there are other sections which I believe require amendment and I would expect to work with you to find a solution.  I agree in principle to section 4 in relation to time limits but I believe it does require some amendments to bring it more in line with the proposals in the Government Bill. I also believe that the appeal from the Ombudsman should continue to lie to the High Court and I believe that it is in the best interest of consumers that it should do so.
  • If this Bill proceeds to report stage, I will be proposing amendments to the principles in Sections 4 (time limits), and the principles in 7 and 8 (appeals) at that stage (and perhaps flagging that I might need to make some more minor amendments to section 5 (mediation) and other sections also).

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY