Seanad debates

Thursday, 24 March 2022

Consumer Protection (Regulation of Retail Credit and Credit Servicing Firms) Bill 2021: Second Stage


10:30 am

Photo of Pat CaseyPat Casey (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister of State back to the House for another important piece of legislation. Just to put on record, Fianna Fáil will be supporting this Bill. Its primary purpose is to provide that any person or firm carrying on the business of providing credit, hire purchase or consumer hire agreements to consumers or other relevant persons will fall within the authorisation and regulatory remit of the Central Bank of Ireland. This will give the Central Bank the necessary legislative basis to apply its consumer protection code and any other relevant code to such firms.

The Bill facilitates the implementation of the key recommendations of the Tutty report on the operation of the PCP market, which stated that the Central Bank should apply relevant provisions of its consumer protection code, particularly the obligations of the financial service providers under the code, to assess the financial capacity of the consumer and the suitability of the product for the consumer prior to entering into a credit arrangement, to all providers of higher purchase or PCP arrangements and to consumers. All providers of PCP and similar agreements to consumers will now have to be authorised by the Central Bank, which will be able to apply its consumer protection code and other protection powers to such firms.This will improve the level of protection available to the consumer in such agreements. As part of the review of the regulation of the personal contract plans commissioned in 2018, Mr. Michael Tutty considered the contents and recommendations of the earlier Competition and Consumer Protection Commission study on personal contract plans, the Irish market and separate Central Bank studies, and an overview of the Irish PCP market. Following his consideration of the market and other considerations, the Tutty report recommended that further consumer protection for PCP arrangements be introduced. In particular, it recommended that the Central Bank consumer protection code, which requires a lender to assess the suitability of a product for a consumer and the ability of the borrower to repay the debt over the duration of the credit period, should be extended to hire purchase and PCP arrangements. The implementation of this recommendation for all providers of hire purchase and PCP agreements requires the legislation that is being debated today.

This is most welcome. We have seen the huge impact that the PCP market is having in Ireland. This is welcome legislation that gives additional protection to the consumer.


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