Wednesday, 26 February 2014
Fines (Payment and Recovery) Bill 2013: Second Stage
I thank Members for their good contributions and welcome their agreement with the Bill.
There were many aspects to the Bill and, although I am not the Minister for Justice and Equality, I certainly would agree with the thrust of it. I am delighted to be here to help to bring a Bill before the House. It is an issue I, personally, would have spoken about. Senator Cummins has spoken on this issue on several occasions. Indeed, I thank all the Members for all the issues that they raised.
Senator O'Donovan raised a question of resources. The Minister has already provided resources to the Courts Service and it is expected, assuming early passage of the Bill, that its provision will be operational in the second half of this year. I will pass on Senator O'Donovan's comments on the instalment and administration fees to the Minister.
Senator Colm Burke raised the issue of the poor box system. I understanding the Minister intends to reform the system, but I will also raise that issue with the Minister.
Senators Bacik and Cummins made the same point in relation to the IT infrastructure being available and when it could be put in place once the law is enacted. I am advised that the IT infrastructure will be in place to allow the system to be operated as soon as the Bill is enacted. For Senator Bacik, I will raise the question on a number of instalments and the administration fee, and the question of the €100 limit in instalments, with the Minister. I am advised that community service will only arise in cases of default where other options are not available to the court.
Senator Quinn welcomed the Bill. As regards recovery orders, these will only be made where a person has failed or refused to pay a fine and where he or she declared to the court assets that are sufficient to pay the fine. These provisions are already in the Fines Act 2010, but I will relay the Senator's comments to the Minister.
While speaking in support of the Bill, Senator Cummins asked whether people in receipt of social welfare benefits would be subject to recovery and community service provisions. If a person in receipt of social welfare benefits has cash or other assets, a recovery order will be made. In response to Senator Ó Clochartaigh, there is no question of a person's family home being seized. However, the Minister will consider whether it is necessary to explicitly exclude the family home from the recovery process, and that can be done. Overall, that is it. As for the other points raised by Members, I note the presence of the departmental officials and these points will be related back to the Minister. I thank Members for this opportunity.