Seanad debates

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Credit Reporting Bill 2012: Second Stage


12:10 pm

Photo of John GilroyJohn Gilroy (Labour) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister. The Bill is technical in nature. It contains 35 sections, most of which are very detailed about the legislative framework for the creation of a repository for credit information. This is to be welcomed; the creation of a central credit register has been welcomed by all stakeholders involved in the collaborative process behind the drafting of the legislation. I followed the progress of the Bill through the other House and was glad to see that it had received universal support. So far today, it has received the support of this House.

A private credit bureau is already in operation here. It is doing some of the work the new credit register will do. However, the data available to the bureau do not represent the full picture on the level of lending in the country. It cannot do so because of its non-statutory nature. The Central Bank, as a result of this legislation, will have a fuller view of the lending landscape. Had this register been in place at the height of the boom, we might not be in our current difficult position.

What action is available to the Central Bank if some institution is imprudently lending to people who are already over-indebted? It would seem necessary that such a role be covered by this legislation.

It is enough to frighten the lives out of customers when they hear their banks or lending institutions will be keeping information on them. Sections 18 to 24, inclusive, have achieved some balance between the necessity of recording customer information and individual’s data protection. Why is there a restriction under section 13 of 200 words for any information held on the central credit register?

Section 30 provides for the power of a bank to produce credit scores and anonymised information. What kind of data might this be and what use could it be put to if it is at such a macro level? Senator Darragh O’Brien, in his good contribution earlier, referred to banks passing on fees for accessing information to their customers. It would be in a bank’s interests to seek credit information but also not to pass on any levy or fee. However, I am not sure that can be covered by this legislation. Will the Minister elaborate on this, as we know the banks are not altruistic or charitable in their approach to customers?

I look forward to discussing this important Bill in more detail on Committee Stage.


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