Wednesday, 1 October 2008
Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Bill 2008: Committee Stage.
Richard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
The problem is the Minister is asking us to make an act of faith and trust that he, in consultation with the regulatory authorities, will come up with a scheme that is robust. Prudence would suggest that we should not make that act of faith quite so easily.
We need to see a scheme. I further believe that some of the powers the Minister proposes to take, which will not be included in this scheme under this legislation, should be laid before the House so we can examine the broader conditions that he intends to impose regarding the companies' operations. The Bill does not provide this detail. I do not agree with Deputy Burton that it is necessary the details should come before the House before the Minister operates the guarantee. However, I believe they should come before the House as quickly as possible — we say within three days. There should be a positive debate to approve the details in the House. Anything the Minister does under the scheme should continue to be lawful before we make that positive resolution. While we are not preventing the Minister from taking emergency action, his room for manoeuvre is strictly for the time between when he starts to operate the guarantee and when the House approves it. The Minister should continue working until we see the scheme. However, once we see the scheme, he must get our approval before continuing indefinitely; this is the way forward.
We have proposed certain matters and we will come to them in detail during the progress of the Bill. However, these include that there should be representation by the State on the main board of the banks covered by the scheme and there should be representation by the regulator on the risk assessment committee of the banks covered by this scheme. We have many other proposals we wish to debate in the course of Committee Stage. We must see the details of what is proposed, or at least have an absolute certainly that all of those details will be brought back to the House for approval. This is so that we can have confidence that, as the scheme develops, the taxpayer is adequately protected, that we can be confident the banks' behaviour under the new regime is robust and inspires confidence in the financial system and that the taxpayers underwriting it can have confidence that this is being done.