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Order of Business (Continued)

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 4

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  11 o’clock

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett There are six proposals to be put to the House. Is proposal No. 1, that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. and shall adjourn not later than 10.30 p.m., agreed to? Agreed. Is proposal No. 2 for dealing with No. 27, statements on European Council, Brussels, agreed to? Agreed. Is proposal No. 3 for dealing with No. a7, Appropriation Bill 2012 - Order for Second Stage, Second and Remaining Stages, agreed to? Agreed. Is proposal No. 4 for dealing with No. 1, National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Bill 2012 - amendments from the Seanad, agreed to? Agreed. Is proposal No. 5 for dealing with No. 93, Private Members' business - motion re carers (resumed), agreed to? Agreed. Is proposal No. 6 for dealing with No. 2, Personal Insolvency Bill 2012 - amendments from the Seanad, agreed to?

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin It is not agreed. I have to say that the guillotining of this measure is particularly inappropriate. Given what was announced this morning concerning the Bank of Ireland's increase in credit card interest rates and the general behaviour of the banks towards the Government and the Oireachtas on key issues, I appeal to the Taoiseach in this regard. Members of the public feel they are being bled by the banks and that banks are treating the Government, Oireachtas and themselves with contempt. The Taoiseach said earlier that he has written to the financial regulator and is in constant contact but all of that does not indicate any movement or change in behaviour or actions. People do not have the personal disposable income to deal with these multiple charges and a tightening of the screw by banks.

In the Personal Insolvency Bill, the Taoiseach is continuing to give banks a veto on household debt resolution. We think that is a fundamentally flawed position to adopt. Given how the banks have behaved as recently as this morning, I appeal to the Taoiseach to give this House more time to consider these issues with a view to ensuring that banks do not have a veto in resolving household debt issues with clients and customers.

An independent office that could arbitrate between customers and banks, and whose findings would be binding on banks, would be a far more effective route to take. For those reasons we are opposing the manner in which the Government proposes to take the Personal Insolvency Bill in this House.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Sinn Féin also opposes the imposition of a guillotine on the Personal Insolvency Bill. We had an example this morning, which I raised with the Taoiseach earlier, but he dealt with it in a very unsatisfactory way. I understand that there could be as many as 245 amendments to be discussed today. Are they not important? This is the Government that said it would have a new way of doing business.

One in four families is in mortgage distress. Those people will be affected by the family home tax which the Taoiseach rushed through here yesterday. The Personal Insolvency Bill clearly gives the banks a veto but, as a result of the guillotine, we will not hear the alternatives. Nor will opposition Deputies have an opportunity to argue for a different case, which the Minister and the Government could take on board. The Government is treating this institution with contempt. The only ones who will benefit from the Personal Insolvency Bill are the very banks that were part of creating the problem.

The Government can clearly vote this Bill through. We can vote against it and go through this little pantomime that we do all the time. I appeal to the Taoiseach, however, to give time for a proper debate on the issue.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I also object to the guillotine being imposed on this legislation. It is clear that the banks are not willing to engage in the sort of debt write-down that is necessary to deal with this suffocating burden of distressed mortgage debt. In that context, serious questions need to be asked and teased out about whether this legislation will achieve the aim of dealing with the problem of mortgage distress. For our part, we do not believe that allowing banks to have the sort of veto that this legislation gives them will result in the sort of relief that distressed mortgage-holders require.

The Government Chief Whip is beginning to look a bit like Madame Defarge, with his predilection for guillotines coming down on important legislation.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe As long as I do not look like you, I am happy.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett The guillotine should be lifted to allow for proper scrutiny of this most important legislation.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I dealt with this matter yesterday. It is almost the end of this Dáil session and we want to move on with setting up the personal insolvency service, which is an alternative to dealing with banks. In the exercise carried out last year in regard to the banks, the point has already been clearly made that they have been sufficiently resourced and recapitalised, so that in cases where they consider it appropriate, write-downs can be made.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Taoiseach could have fooled me.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny There has to be an understanding of moral hazard, in addition to distinguishing between those who cannot or will not pay. We want to move on with the Bill and Members can make their points in the course of today's discussion here.


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