Seanad debates

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Credit Reporting Bill 2012: Committee and Remaining Stages


11:30 am

Photo of Denis O'DonovanDenis O'Donovan (Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes, to the House, to deal with Committee and Remaining Stages of the Credit Reporting Bill 2012.

Sections 1 to 35, inclusive, agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment and received for final consideration.

Photo of Denis O'DonovanDenis O'Donovan (Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

When is it proposed to take next Stage?

Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I made a detailed contribution on Second Stage. I thank the Minister of State and the Minister, Deputy Noonan. The Minister of State accepted amendments from the Opposition in the other House. This is a good piece of legislation. I put the case on behalf of our group on Second Stage. I do not deem it appropriate to delay the House further. This Bill will greatly improve the transparency of credit reporting and transparency in the banking and financial services sectors. People in America are very aware of their credit scores and how to access them.

I heard that this Bill may be enacted in 2016. I ask the Minister of State to confirm the date. I ask for a commitment from the Government to provide information about how citizens may access their credit scores and how they may make changes if errors are made. I thank the Minister of State for his assistance with the passage of the Bill.

Photo of Brian HayesBrian Hayes (Dublin South West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

We are delighted that there is cross-party support for this Bill. The Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, raised two crucial issues on Second Stage. He recognised that the creation of a register containing all the information about potential losses and risks for lenders and borrowers is crucial to ensuring that mistakes are not repeated. The bank intends to take a phased approach to the establishment and development of the register. It has suggested that the indicative timeline for the implementation phase will be over the period 2015 to 2016. It is anticipated that 2014 and much of 2015 will be spent in procuring, developing and testing the technical solution, in partnership with all relevant stakeholders, with data supplied on a phased basis over the course of late 2015 and early 2016. The indicative timeline will be dependent on the enactment of the Bill and for this reason the Government is very grateful to the House for the very constructive approach it has taken.

We gave a commitment to the troika that this Bill would be enacted by the end of this year and the House has ensured that we will fulfil this commitment to make regulatory changes to the country's banking structure. Assuming the House agrees to the Final Stage, that first commitment will be in place by the end of 2013. The successful development of a technical solution to which I referred, is a big public procurement issue which we need to get right. We hope it will be in place by the end of next year. Credit information providers will need to change their procedures in order to meet all of the challenges of this legislation. This will be an issue of concern.

Senator O'Brien brought the question of consumer awareness to the attention of the House on Second Stage. He suggested a widespread programme of consumer education needs to be conducted and we do not disagree. The Minister, Deputy Noonan, has stated that this would be hugely beneficial to the consumer in particular, and as the Senator has highlighted, because of the lack of awareness on the availability of credit information. I agree it is very important that citizens are made aware of the register and its implications. It is equally important for consumers to know that they have the ability to access a free copy of the credit report each year. Consumer awareness and education is imperative if the legislation is to have a positive effect. The Central Bank will carry out a public awareness campaign which will highlight the opportunities for individuals to avail of a free copy of their credit report each year.

This important amendment was notified between Committee and Report Stages in the Lower House by Deputies Michael McGrath and Pearse Doherty on behalf of the two main Opposition parties. The Minister, Deputy Noonan, was happy to amend the Bill on Report Stage so as to ensure it was clear that people were entitled to this information from the register free of charge, available on an annualised basis. The Central Bank made the point that, in making people aware of this provision, a large consumer awareness campaign must be run. We understand that the National Consumer Agency, NCA, will work with the Central Bank on the campaign's development so that the public can be aware of where the information is held and how to obtain it. I presume that most information will be obtained electronically, but that is a matter for the bank to work out in due course. I hope that I have answered the questions.

Question put and agreed to.

Sitting suspended at 1.30 p.m. and resumed at 1.45 p.m.