Wednesday, 1 October 2008
Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Bill 2008: Committee Stage.
Arthur Morgan (Louth, Sinn Fein)
I support amendment No. 1 put forward by the Labour Party. It is entirely reasonable that the Government should be asked to include a model of the scheme with this Bill and to outline at least a general guideline of the terms and conditions that will apply in any such schemes. We are giving the banks a blank cheque, but we are also giving the Minister a complete blank cheque. We have heard about blank cheques at the tribunals and we know that is not good practice.
The buzzwords this morning are confidence and trust, but I am not sure about having confidence and trust. When we look at the example of the banks and their rip-off practices, we see AIB bailed out and not having to pay back anything like the reward it received from the State. We should contrast that treatment of the banks with the treatment of constituents of ours who have received an overpayment of welfare benefits of €200 or €300 and who receive a letter straight away demanding the money back. This does not apply to the banks so it is easy to understand why there are reservations in this House regarding the absence of a model of the scheme.
I received a letter this morning from the Ceann Comhairle stating that my amendments Nos. 18 and 19 are out of order as they may involve a potential charge on the people. Even Members of this House are being tied down due to potential charges on the people, yet we have no idea of the potential charge the banks will apply on the people. There is an explanation needed urgently.
I do not trust the Government, and with good reason. Deputy Rabbitte quoted an economist who warned about this, and there are others, but many in this House, including myself, warned more than three years ago that the economy was grossly over-reliant on the construction sector and that the Government needed to develop alternative options. There was construction and internal consumption, and as soon as one began to shift, the other naturally melted like snow off a rope, but the Government did nothing about that. It was warned about the lack of a regulatory regime in the banking system as far back as 2005, when the Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service, on a proposal of my colleague, Deputy Ó Caoláin, had a look at the regulatory regime in the banking sector. That committee recommended strongly that there should be a review and that an effective regulatory regime should be put in place. This did not happen and it has not happened in the past three years. If it had happened, at least some of this current crisis may well have been averted. I support the amendment because it would add substantially to the legislation and I hope the Minister will accept it.