Seanad debates

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Public Services Card

10:30 am

Photo of Jim DalyJim Daly (Cork South West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

Under current legislation, a public services card cannot be requested by any public or private body or person that is not designated as a specified body in Schedule 5 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, as amended. Currently, the PSC can only be used by public bodies specified in this legislation when conducting a public transaction with the person concerned.

One of the provisions set out in section 5 of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017 would, if enacted, enable citizens to volunteer their PSC where they wish to use it as a form of proof of identity and-or age. However, it is important to note that a non-specified body could not request or demand the production of a PSC. It simply gives individuals the option to use their PSC if they wished, as proof of identity and-or age, in transactions with non-specified bodies. It is clear from customer feedback that PSC holders should be allowed to volunteer the card to non-specified bodies if it suits them to do so, for the purposes of ID verification. Customers often report that private companies insist on a State-issued photographic ID such as a passport or driver's licence which they might not have and which attracts a cost. In contrast, the PSC is free of charge.

This proposal provides, therefore, for the card be accepted as a form of identity verification by a private sector organisation or non-specified body, but only at the sole discretion of the cardholder.The Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017 proposes a number of amendments to the Social Welfare Acts, the Pensions Act 1990 and the Civil Registration Act 2004 in addition to provisions relating to the use of public services cards. The proposed amendments to the Pensions Act contain a number of key measures relating to defined benefit pension schemes. It is intended that these measures will act to support existing provisions in the Act by providing for further protection for scheme members' benefits and enhancing employers' responsibility for their schemes. These provisions, in particular, are very technical and involve complex policy issues. In order to achieve a resilient solution, it has, therefore, been necessary to consult in detail with other Departments and obtain numerous legal opinions. When these matters have been resolved and the amendments are approved by Government, an early date for Committee Stage will be requested.


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