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 Header Item Credit Reporting Bill 2012: Order for Report Stage
 Header Item Credit Reporting Bill 2012: Report and Final Stages

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 823 No. 2

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Credit Reporting Bill 2012: Order for Report Stage

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes I move: "That Report Stage be taken now."

  Question put and agreed to.

Credit Reporting Bill 2012: Report and Final Stages

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Amendments Nos. 1 and 10 form a composite proposal and may be discussed together. The Minister of State must move the motion for recommittal.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes I move:

That, in accordance with Standing Order 130(1), the Bill be recommitted in respect of amendments Nos. 1 and 10.

  Question put and agreed to.

  Bill recommitted in respect of amendment No. 1.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, line 16, after "1942;" to insert "AND THE CENTRAL BANK (SUPERVISION AND ENFORCEMENT) ACT 2013;".

Amendment No. 10 provides for the insertion of a new section into the Bill, which is section 35. The reasoning behind this provision is to correct a drafting error in the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Act 2013. Sections 5(2) and 5(3) of the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Act 2013 both erroneously referred to Parts 1 to 3 of Schedule 3 and Schedule 4, respectively. The insertion of this new provision will have the effect of rectifying the error by inserting the correct reference in each case to Parts 1 and 4. Should this amendment be accepted, it will result in a consequential technical amendment being required to make reference in the Long Title of the Bill to the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Act 2013.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Bill reported with amendment.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I move amendment No. 2:

In page 12, between lines 20 and 21, to insert the following:
  "(2) The cost of amending any inaccurate or incomplete information detected in the Register shall be borne by the relevant financial institution and not the individual about whom the information concerns.".

This amendment is to ensure that the cost of amending any or incomplete information detected in the register shall be borne by the relevant financial institution and not the individual whom the information concerns.

  I note that in section 26 the Central Bank has the power, with the consent of the Minister, to make regulations prescribing fees for access to certain information. It does not make reference to the correction of the register where errors occur. We are aware, for example, that when Ulster Bank had technical difficulties last year it may have resulted in certain cases where the formal credit register, which will now be set up on a statutory basis, contained errors. What I am trying to get at here is, where an individual seeks access to his or her credit history - I note the Minister has a subsequent amendment proposing that he or she will be allowed to do so free of charge, essentially, once every year - and identifies any errors in the record which are not of his or her making, if any costs arise in connection with the correction of that record, the costs would not be borne by the individual.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes Amendment No. 2 specifies that the cost of amending any inaccurate or incomplete information on the register will be borne by the credit information provider and not the credit information subject. I do not propose to take this amendment on board as the provision is not necessary. The Bill does not make provision for charges to be imposed on individuals who seek to amend inaccurate or incomplete information on the credit register.

Section 9 provides for an application process to correct personal information that is comparable to the process under the Data Protection Acts. I am advised by the Data Protection Commissioner, DPC, that data subjects do not have to pay a fee to request the correction of personal data held by the data controller.

An application in relation to the correction of information held on the credit register will, first, be made by the Central Bank. The Central Bank must rectify the credit register as appropriate where it is found that the information held on the credit register is inaccurate or incomplete. There is no resulting charge on the individual about whom the information concerns.

It is not necessary because of the existing provisions. For the information of Deputy Michael McGrath who spoke of section 26, my understanding is that section 26 does not allow fees to be imposed on individuals to apply in order to correct errors.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath Essentially, the Minister of State is giving an assurance that he does not envisage any circumstances where individuals would be charged for corrections having to be made to their record. If that is his understanding of the Bill, I would be happy to withdraw the amendment.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes It is important that Deputy Michael McGrath, in putting down this amendment, gets clarity on it. As I have always stated on Committee and Report Stages, the transcript of the debate helps to inform the decision-making that follows. Let it be clear, my understanding is exactly that of the Deputy. Let everyone outside this House who is implementing this understand that.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I move amendment No. 3:

In page 13, between lines 46 and 47, to insert the following:
  "(2) Financial institutions that contribute to the Register shall be required to satisfy the Regulator that the procedures of such financial institutions, for cross referencing and verification of data, are fit for purpose.".

Amendment No. 3 requires that financial institutions contributing to the register shall be required - it places a legal onus on them - to satisfy the Regulator that the procedures of such financial institutions, for cross referencing and verification of data, are fit for purpose. This was an issue raised by the National Consumer Agency during the public consultation phase of the Bill. It requires the institutions to ensure that they have proper systems and procedures in place so that the information they provide to the register is up to date and accurate. It shifts the onus onto them to ensure that what is inputted onto the new register is bona fide and can form a reliable basis for those, both for borrowers and lenders, who are making important decisions.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes We had a general discussion about how to correct the register on Committee Stage to which the Deputies opposite contributed. Deputy Michael McGrath stated at that point he would bring forward this amendment to reflect that discussion and he flagged that as part of his contribution.

I do not propose to take amendment No. 3 on board as it is my view that this is not necessary. Section 20 gives the bank the power to set the verification standards for personal data. Section 21 places an obligation on credit information providers in relation to the quality of the credit information provided. Furthermore, credit information providers have obligations as data controllers under the Data Protection Acts.

In addition, section 11 of the Bill allows the Central Bank to define the detail to be provided by way of regulations for both personal and credit information. That power exists for it in terms of the regulations that are to be provided thereafter. Failure to adhere to the regulations or standards can be addressed by the Central Bank through the extensive enforcement powers of regulated financial service providers.

The Central Bank has the necessary power in the Bill to set the rules and standards and has the power to take enforcement action if necessary. The amendment is not required because of the existing power that the Central Bank has in terms of regulations in this matter.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I move amendment No. 4:

In page 15, between lines 24 and 25, to insert the following:
  "14. (1) Licensed moneylenders shall be required to consult the Register before providing a loan in excess of €500.".

Amendment No. 4 requires licensed moneylenders in the State to consult the new credit register before providing a loan in excess of €500. This is an important amendment. The typical loan provided by licensed moneylenders in the State would be €500. The recent report by the Central Bank provided confirmation of the growth in activity by licensed moneylenders. By their nature, such loans are high risk. From the point of view of the borrower, a loan that starts off at €500, given the high interest rates that apply, can grow quite substantially over a period of months. If the liability remains outstanding for a year or more, the borrower can owe a considerable sum of money.

  The current threshold is too high. Deputy Pearse Doherty tabled a separate amendment which is amendment No. 5. Given the specific and unique characteristics that apply to the licensed moneylending sector, it should be required to consult with the register because it is quite possible that individuals will have multiple loans from different licensed moneylenders across the system without any of the other moneylenders knowing that such money is owed. It is something that should be looked at to ensure that proper credit decisions can be taken by the moneylenders.


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