Thursday, 17 December 2015
Bankruptcy (Amendment) Bill 2015: Second Stage
I extend a welcome to the Minister of State and the Bill. I echo all of the accolades that have been bestowed on Deputy Willie Penrose in his promotion of this matter. Bringing the bankruptcy term back to one year is a good move and protecting the family home is commendable. In addition, the provision whereby people who deliberately conceal assets may face a bankruptcy term of up to eight years, means it pays to co-operate.
It is a pity that there are 26,000 intractable cases before us and, therefore, an overhang of debt. This legislation is one of the steps that will help us to get out of this dreadful situation. Another step took place today because interest rates have finally started to rise in the United States. We must also look at matters such as the regulation of banks. During the banking inquiry it was revealed that there was irresponsible lending, by any standards, and heavily concentrated lending for a small number of individuals, and properties did not have proper titles which is why NAMA had to apply such a huge discount. Therefore, we will need to have a far more tightly regulated property sector in future.
I hope that all of us will return after the break. No. 48 on today's Order Paper is the National Mortgage and Housing Corporation Bill 2015. Its aim is to transfer the ability of governments to borrow at low interest rates to below average housing and not rely on the existing financial institutions that have a lot to answer for.
Senator Hayden has always stressed, and I thought that we had made some progress with the then Minister, Deputy Shatter, that in cases involving a buy-to-let property the solution should never be to evict the tenant and that action is taken against the landlord and not the tenant who pays his or her rent. It is an unfortunate consequence that we do not have security of tenure for people in such circumstances. The moral hazard was all in the financial sector, the construction sector and the accountancy sector. The latter will come under stricter regulation next June under the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority. Banking will have to be heavily controlled by the current Governor, Professor Philip Lane, as it was by his predecessor, Professor Patrick Honohan. This legislation is a step in the right direction. I do not wish to delay the House and confirm that I shall vote for the Bill. I wish the Minister well and thank Deputy Penrose for his initiative in bringing the legislation forward.