Markets in Financial Instruments Bill 2018: Second Stage

I move: "That the Bill be read a Second Time."

The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II, known as MiFID II, is the cornerstone of European Union financial markets legislation, covering the regulation of investment services providers.

It is changing how European markets operate for the better as we go forward, ensuring safer more transparent markets across the Union. MiFID II represents a major piece of financial markets reform and is ambitious in its scope. It seeks to make financial markets more efficient, resilient and transparent in a number of ways. It introduces rules to keep pace with technical developments such as algorithmic-----

-----trading that has the potential to cause systemic risks. It improves transparency and oversight of financial markets, and for the first time establishes the principle of transparency for non-equity instruments such as bonds and derivatives. The Bill also introduces measures to deal with excessive volatility, improves conditions for competition in the trading and clearing of financial instruments and builds and strengthens investor protection rules.

The directive was transposed into Irish law by statutory instrument in August of last year and it entered into application on 3 January 2018. However, it is necessary to provide for criminal sanctions and penalties for infringements outlined in MiFID II via primary legislation. Hence the need for this Bill. It provides that a person guilty of an offence under certain provisions of the MiFID II regulations, such as operating without authorisation, is liable on conviction on indictment to a maximum penalty of €10 million, imprisonment for ten years or both. This is a continuation of the criminal sanctions regime that existed in Irish law under our MiFID I regime.

While the main part of this Bill is the introduction of criminal sanctions under MiFID II, the Bill also contains amendments to definitions in the Credit Reporting Act 2013 and the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017. The Credit Reporting Act provides that the Central Bank of Ireland shall establish, maintain and operate a database of specified personal and credit information known as the central credit register. The purpose of the register is to ensure that credit providers will have access to the most accurate and up to date information regarding a borrower's total debt exposure when considering an application for credit, or when an existing loan is in arrears or being restructured. It is advised by the Office of the Attorney General that the definition of "credit" included in the Act, which was intended to exclude trade credit from the scope of the central credit register, would also unintentionally exclude hire purchase and similar credit agreements. The amendment to the Act included in this Bill remedies the issue.

The Bill also makes an amendment to the definition of "long term contract" in the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017 which refers to the European Communities Life Assurance Framework Regulations 1994. The policy intent was to capture life assurance contracts of all durations, including open-ended products. It has now emerged that the European Union (Insurance and Reinsurance) Regulations 2015 implementing the Solvency II Directive superseded the 1994 regulations for many insurance undertakings. This Bill amends the definition to ensure that products to which the 2015 regulations apply are also included in the definition. The purpose of this amendment is to grant access, on a statutory footing to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman for consumers wishing to make a complaint about these products. I will now provide a short outline of the Bill.

Sections 1 and 2 contain the Short Title of the Act and a provision dealing with expenses incurred in the administration of the Act. Sections 3 and 4 repeal the criminal sanctions and penalties contained in the Markets in Financial Instruments and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2007 and provide for further definitions. Section 5 provides for the definitions and details of fines and penalties that I have already outlined in relation to infringements of MiFID II. Section 6 allows the Central Bank to charge fees in relation to its functions under MiFID II. Section 7 contains an amendment to Schedule 2 to the Central Bank Act 1942. Section 8 amends the Credit Reporting Act 2013, as I have already outlined. Section 9 contains the amendment to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017. I thank my fellow Deputies for the opportunity to speak today on the Markets and Financial Instruments Bill 2018. I look forward to debating these measures and commend the Bill to the House.

I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the Second Stage debate on the Markets and Financial Instruments Bill 2018. It is broadly a technical Bill. The European directive was transposed in August 2017. However, primary legislation is required to give effect to elements of that directive. It is principally in the area provided for in section 5 of the Bill. I refer to the provision around a "relevant defence", the definition of that and the penalties provided for. There is also the amendment to the Credit Reporting Act 2013. Section 9 of the Bill amends the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017.

My party is supportive of the Bill. We will engage constructively on Committee and Report Stages in respect of the passage of this legislation. However, it is timely to get a reminder of the need for accountability and for strict penalties to be put in place where financial regulation transgressions occur. The tracker mortgage scandal is the dominating consumer issue at the moment. In that context, this is a reminder for the Government of the need to re-examine domestic legislation. I refer to legislation on the Statute Book holding people accountable.

Most people monitoring the evolution of that scandal will want to know at the end of it that there are answers. They will want to know that there is some accountability as to how it could happen across all the main lenders. How did they all happen to make the same mistake and, ultimately, who will be held accountable for that? The Central Bank has now confirmed that enforcement investigations are under way in respect of the five main lenders. I welcome that and ask the Minister to engage constructively with the Central Bank on any requests it has for additional powers. The whole area of white collar crime has to be prioritised by this Government. We need to strengthen the provisions on our Statute Book. This Bill, which derives from a European directive, is a timely reminder of the need to do that.

The Bill also provides an opportunity to call on the Government to redouble its efforts to support at a European level the need for a Single Market in respect of financial services. I have raised this issue on a number of occasions and at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach. Consumers elsewhere in Europe are benefitting from much lower interest rates on mortgages and business loans. We are meant to have a European Single Market. Why can consumers in Ireland not access credit from a bank in France, Italy, Spain or Germany? The reality is they cannot. The wheels are moving very slowly at a European level to deal with that. That issue is relevant as well in the context of insurance. We consistently need to raise this issue at ECOFIN, at the Eurogroup and at the European Council to try to drive on that process. We do not have a European Single Market in respect of some key services people rely on in their day to day lives. This Government should be prioritising and dealing with that issue.

We often get press releases from the Central Bank warning people about unauthorised firms. I refer to firms that are not regulated and are trading in this country, trying to sell services and products to people here. It is important that we build awareness among consumers as to what regulation means and what are the benefits of regulations. We have to also improve the awareness of the difference between where firms are regulated in Ireland prudentially and where they are regulated here for conduct of business purposes only. We all hear at the end of the advertisement on the radio or the television that a certain firm is regulated for conduct of business purposes.

The Setanta Insurance saga is rumbling on and there is still no end in sight for many people, despite the Government statement some months ago that claimants would get 100% of what they are due. There is deep frustration among many people who were caught up in that scandal. We are now four years on from the collapse of Setanta Insurance. In some cases, the relevant accident had occurred seven years prior to that. I know of cases that go back seven and eight years and where the claim is still outstanding because at the point of the collapse of Setanta, the claim was not settled. The policyholders got caught up in the quagmire of the liquidation of the firm.

This really needs to be dealt with. Some people have got zero while others have got 65%. It is not only an issue for the claimants but for Setanta policyholders as well. They are completely innocent. They took out a legitimate insurance policy in this State. Yet, they still have legal letters on their kitchen tables suggesting they could be held personally liable for any shortfall in a claim made against them. That is not acceptable. I welcome the Government commitment to deal with the issue but we need greater urgency. We need to get the issue closed off as quickly as possible.

The final issue I want to raise with the Minister of State relates to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman. I fully supported the legislation brought forward by Sinn Féin. Deputy Doherty did good work on the six-year rule. Our party produced a Bill and there was Government legislation as well. The six-year rule was amended to introduce a discoverability clause. To complement the six-year rule an additional provision was made whereby a complainant had three years from becoming aware of the subject matter of the complaint or from when he or she ought to have become aware of it.

I am aware of difficulties with the application of this. I have discussed the matter of whole-of-life insurance policies with the Minister and I have raised it before as well. The way people in this country have been treated with these policies is a scandal. When the policy comes up for review, whether it be after five years or ten years, the premium people are expected to pay can increase dramatically to such an extent that it is simply unaffordable for many people. They have no choice in that they are locked in, essentially, to the product. Such cases are taken before the ombudsman. I have raised this issue before. I have issued press releases on whole-of-life insurance policies. There seems to be some blockage and difficulty with the ombudsman in dealing with where the statute of limitations issue arises. Will the Minister examine the matter in the context of this Bill? We may bring forward amendments but I am keen for the position to be absolutely clear. Consumers must have a right to bring cases of mis-selling to the ombudsman where they have only become aware in recent years of a difficulty with a product. That was the intention of the legislation brought forward by Deputy Doherty, as well as the Department and the Government legislation, but there are difficulties in its application. Certainly, we want that issue dealt with.

We look forward to the full debate on the Bill, including Committee and Report Stages. We will engage constructively. We will be supporting the Bill.

Ba mhaith liom mo ghlór a chur leis an Bhille seo agus cuirim fáilte roimh an Bhille seo os comhair an Tí inniu. Beidh Páirtí Shinn Féin ag tabhairt tacaíochta don Bille seo. Tá cúpla ceist againn agus ábhar mion atáimid ag iarraidh tabhairt tríd ach beidh sin fágtha go dtí leibhéal coiste agus sílim go mbeadh sé fábhrach dá mbeimid ábalta deileáil le hoifigigh na Roinne fosta le cuid de seo a phlé sula théann sé go dtí leibhéal an choiste ach ar an chéad dul síos, is dul chun cinn mór é go bhfuil sé os ár gcomhair inniu. Ba mhaith liom fosta ceist a chur ar cén fáth gur tháinig seo i bhfeidhm ar an 30 Eanáir ach nach bhfuilimid ach ag deileáil anois ag an Dara Céim inniu.

I welcome this legislation for several reasons. I have a query relating to how the measures came into force on 3 January, yet we are only dealing with Second Stage of the legislation today. However, I welcome it because of the content and because we are dealing with the matter through primary legislation. This point is important. This is complex law and is not being dealt with through secondary legislation, although that was an option. It is important that this law is dealt with through primary legislation. It will give the Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach an opportunity to tease out in detail the implications of the legislation and ensure that it is fit for purpose.

I note how this adds to an existing range of consumer protection legislation. There is now such a range and maze of codes, regulations and Acts. There is growing need for composite consumer protection legislation to clarify all codes and statutory instruments and all the various recommendations. That needs to come later down the road, perhaps.

The specialist nature of these provisions requires a separate Act and I have no issue with it. However, there is a wider issue with regard to pulling all the consumer protection provisions together into composite legislation. That will make it easier for people to know all the various strands of consumer legislation under a composite enactment.

Commentators have said that the second Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, MiFID II, is designed to throw light on some of the darker parts of the financial markets in investments. The measure does not necessarily imply that anything sinister or wrong is going on with such products or that part of the market. It simply means that they are out of sight and out of mind for the vast majority of us. It is fair to say that Ireland, more than any other EU state, with the possible exception of Luxembourg, is exposed to the possible reputational and actual damage of the vast financial sector that operates here, or at least operates here on paper.

MiFID II brings greater transparency, regulation and surveillance of deals done, investments made and benefits gained. That is welcome. It also shines a light on the casual boys' club of trading data and information that can exist. The amount of trading that goes on in the so-called dark pools and that is mired in secrecy will be limited. Brokers and traders will now have to report almost instantly the detail of deals done. That is welcome. Overall, it is a welcome, if perhaps unglamorous, addition to financial regulation.

I said in my opening remarks that I looked forward to examining at a later stage the exemptions Ireland has chosen to use. I hope to tease out the matter on Committee Stage with the Minister and I wish to give him advance notice. I intend to tease out the full explanation for, and secure reassurance on, why these optional elements do not dilute the effectiveness of MiFID II or leave us more exposed to reckless behaviour. That is something we need to be assured of.

I welcome the addition of section 9, which addresses the issues I have raised as well as a technical issue in the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Bill. I will suggest amendments to the section. I have discussed an issue with a constituent. We have been dealing with the Department for a lengthy period now. I believe even more clarity is required. I would be happy to engage with officials of the Department in advance of Committee Stage to ensure we get this right. I am keen to have my concerns allayed on the need for an amendment. My concerns are technical but that would be helpful.

In short, the interpretation of what constitutes a fixed term may in a small way allow some financial service providers off the hook. This is clearly not within the spirit of the legislation. I have been in contact with the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman as well as many consumers who maintain the law still does not protect or empower them, especially in the case of so-called whole-of-life policies. I hope this will be teased out on Committee Stage. I welcome the remarks of Deputy Michael McGrath on the matter. We need to be able to find consensus on the matter on Committee Stage. When I was progressing my legislation through the House, I raised concerns in respect of the definition. At the time I did not have majority support for consideration of a different definition but it has come to pass that there is a block. I am unsure whether the matter falls under the remit of the ombudsman or this legislation. The ombudsman maintains the legislation says what it says and, therefore, there is a restriction. I am keen to hear the Government remarks on the matter. We always need to revisit legislation to determine whether it is doing what we intended.

Despite the differences we had regarding the definition at that time and my attempt to try to widen it in order that there would be no ambiguity regarding these products, I can safely say that everybody believed that these products would be within the scope of this Bill. It is something that I intend to address on Committee Stage, but given the technical nature of this Bill it would be far better if we were to agree and reach some consensus on this issue beforehand.

One of the issues addressed by the markets in financial instruments directive, MiFID I and II is the transparency brought to the process when an adviser, for example, has to declare that he or she has an interest in an insurer, for example, that he or she is recommending as a client. This is a crucial aspect of the legislation. To bring this back to the ordinary consumer, this is an issue which has caused problems. I have put a large amount of evidence before the Central Bank on a range of banks that failed to declare that they were the owner or part-owner of an insurer they recommended to market holders. There has been no action, as I understand it, from the Central Bank's point of view in that regard. There are difficulties with the Central Bank because when a person makes a disclosure to it, it is not able to report to him or her what it is doing.

I am aware that a High Court case on this issue was taken by a number of individuals who took a financial institution to court. They won that High Court case. The company appealed to a higher court and then withdrew its appeal. Therefore the law states what the law states. I assume there was an out-of-court settlement with those individuals. I have no reason to believe that did not happen. I know those individuals were not the only people who were missold that insurance product by the financial institution. This boils down to the fact that the insurance an individual bought when they took out their mortgage was owned or part-owned by the firm that was selling the mortgage. One is not allowed to do that without declaring it. It is unlawful to do that, and that is what the courts have found.

What was interesting about that case was that prior to it being heard in the court, this matter was brought to the attention of the Central Bank and it gave a slap on the hand but it did not carry out any enforcement proceedings in regard to it. I know that every single insurance product sold by this financial institution had the exact same terms and conditions. Thousands of people were affected. We talk about disclosure and non-disclosure and we now have the cervical cancer scandal, but information is power. Thousands of people were also missold the same product by the same financial institution and do not have a clue about it, as that High Court case would have been settled out of court and would have had attached to it a confidentiality agreement or a gagging order. Nobody else is aware that this is happening. This did not involve just that one institution. Some of the main lenders in this State were also involved in this practice. As I said, I have provided legal documentation to the Central Bank on this and it is something on which we need to see action taken.

That shows that, with all of the great laws that are in place, and MiFID I and II deal with this, without a regulator being prepared to act decisively at an early stage, they are worthless. Without information being provided to the consumers, how do they know that there is a technical part of the conditions that provide that a person who is the owner of an insurance company selling an insurance product to a customer must declare he or she owns the company or has an interest in it above 25%? That is what has happened. I ask the Minister of State to intervene, if possible, in regard to that.

In private meetings with the banks, I continue to push with them their responsibility on the tracker issue. I am very much of the view that they hope that issue is going away, but I am very much of the view that this scandal is far from over. There are groups, whether they be bank staff or those in the prevailing eight institutions, that simply cannot be wished away. I take this opportunity to appeal to the Minister of State to ensure that this does not linger on month after month, year after year, and that we would bring this to a speedy conclusion.

The legislation Deputy Ó Laoghaire and I drafted on class action suits is before the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality. That is to be welcomed and it will add to this suite of legislation which will give better protection to consumers.

I welcome this Bill and the fact that it is coming in as this type of legislation and that we will be able to deal with it in detail. It might allay some of my concerns about the exemptions we are using in respect of it, but we need to get it right regarding the few points I made, particularly about life insurance. It will be our intention to table an amendment to that effect but, with the experience the Department has of this matter, we would rather it came from the Department.

This is the first time since the news about the cervical testing services broke that we have met a Minister from the Department of Finance. The Department of Finance oversees the public service and the public service code of conduct. In that respect, will the Minister of State indicate whether any element of the public service code of conduct applies to the head of the HSE, and whether the Department-----

The Deputy is going way beyond the scope of the Bill, in fairness.

I will be very brief on this. I want to say to the Minister of State and to the officials in particular-----

Would the Deputy not speak to them afterwards because we are here to discuss this Bill?

We need to get some information from the Department about the application of the public service code of conduct to the head of the HSE.

Yes, but that is not relevant in the context of this Bill. I do not want to be at odds with the Deputy, but it is not relevant in the context of the legislation before us.

This is about regulation and the approach to regulation in an area where, as previous speakers have just said, the regulation is very difficult for people to understand. We have not heard anything from the Department of Finance, which is the Department responsible for public service code of conduct.

If the Minister of State was to attempt to address that matter now, I would have to rule him out of order because it is not relevant to the subject matter before us.

It is relevant to women in Ireland-----

Of course, it is hugely relevant.

-----and the scandal we have heard of in recent days.

Yes, but the Deputy knows the procedure as well as I do.

We have not seen any Ministers from the Department of Finance coming into the House to discuss their responsibility for the public service code of conduct and how somebody in the HSE can take a second appointment when they are charged with managing the HSE. That is what I wanted to say.

On this particular legislation and the European Union directive, there are many new financial products and changes in existing financial products coming constantly onto the markets. Much of the trading is now done by individuals, businesses and people in the financial markets through the cloud and the Internet. The speed of change, therefore, makes it very difficult, especially for smaller investors and individuals and small and medium sized businesses, to keep up with that. Any regulation in this area, therefore, is welcome. Algorithms are certainly changing the world, particularly the world of financial instruments.

It is important to remember in 2018, ten years after the catastrophic collapse in our banking system, the catastrophic role contracts for difference played in the collapse, in particular, of Anglo Irish Bank and where Mr. Seán Quinn of Quinn Insurance built up something like a 30% stake - I cannot remember the exact figure - in the bank through contracts for difference which were not apparent to the regulators in the Central Bank at the time in the way perhaps they should have been fully apparent so that the Central Bank could take action to protect and defend the integrity of the entire Irish banking system, which subsequently collapsed.

It is important that we remember that and not become blasé. These instruments can be used rapidly with tremendous effect, but they also have enormous capacity for destruction, as we saw clearly in the role they played in the downfall of Anglo Irish Bank which ultimately cost the taxpayer €30 billion which we will probably never see again and was the long lead-in to the troika coming and taking control of our affairs and Ireland losing control of its financial independence. Therefore, these issues are very important.

One should bear in mind also that in the subsequent ten years what has changed enormously is the insurance sector, in particular, provisions for pensions, many of which are inevitably linked with the insurance and financial investment sectors, whereby individual employees in the private sector who used to be in defined benefit schemes are now, because Ireland is part of a global financial system, in defined contribution schemes, which means that they are managing their own pension funds, perhaps from the age of 26 or 27 years to the moment they retire. There are only the odd few who are capable of playing the markets to ensure their pension will be there for them when they retire. Anything which beefs up financial regulation in favour of the individual consumer, the individual pension investor and small and medium-sized businesses in order that they can trade in a safer and more confident way is to be welcomed.

On the new developments in finance, the securitisation of investments through different structures has happened apace. The securitisation of mortgages and loans has been happening since the end of the last century and particularly at the beginning of this one. Most of the transactions are at one remove from the consumer - the individual whose house may end up in a securitisation bundle worth many billions of euro. The big question is: what protections are we building for such individuals against the might of financial companies and instruments which are coming to dominate the financial aspects of their lives over a long period. In that context and with reference to the European Union, this is one of the arguments in favour of a financial transactions tax, even if it was at a very low level. To have a tax of even half a point - in fact, as the officials will be aware, one can have a tax at a zero rate - one must have a proper record of transactions. One of the problems in that regard is that their descriptions are often limited because they simply fail to keep abreast of the sheer level of change in financial instruments and derivatives. At times, because of the way derivatives are used, they can be likened to the crack cocaine of the financial services sector. People are sitting in their rooms at 2 a.m. and playing on screens. I do not know whether the Minister of State, Deputy Michael D'Arcy, ever has time to look at some of the advertisements on his phone, but they are the most seductive in that they tell us there is no longer a risk with derivatives. Did the Minister of State know that? There are amazing packages which assure that someone will only win, win, win. In fact, they are more akin to gambling advertisements than to financial investment advertisements.

Notwithstanding all of the difficult reforms, I am not sure we have learned lessons from the risks from which the country suffered catastrophically. We have a Central Bank that is now regulated, but it is also responsible for consumer protection. Being perfectly honest, its understandable priority is regulation, but the consequence is that consumer protection - of individuals and businesses which use banks and financial markets, particularly small and medium-sized businesses - is very low down its list of priorities. It is complex, but it is difficult to approach the regulator which is not sufficiently strong to take on bad behaviour in the financial services sector on behalf of the little guys and get justice for them in a timely and appropriate way. We just do not have this. In many ways, it may be because we are in awe of the money those involved in the financial markets seem to have. That level of wealth carries with it perhaps an aura of benevolence and intelligence. The protection of consumers, both individuals and businesses, is weak in Irish financial structures. That is the only conclusion one can reach.

The role of the Financial Services Ombudsman needs to be empowered and enhanced. In particular, the relationship with the Central Bank and the Central Bank's understandable primary concern being regulation in meeting EU requirements and being part of the European Central Bank are problems that have not been solved in the Irish legal structure. We need to look at this. If, as mentioned, amendments are brought forward, I hope the Minister will consider them seriously.

We also need to look at the amendment in respect of the consumer credit register which is little understood by most. I am particularly concerned about the potential impact of a negative mark on the register against young people who, for instance, are seduced by the offer of easy car loan arrangements, fail to complete the loan repayments properly and will as a consequence have a negative mark registered against them. When they then come to buy a house or seek loans for other purposes, they may find that their credit rating has been impaired. We should look at this matter in the context of the amendment the Minister is moving in respect of the credit register. Specifically, I would like the Minister to update us on how many negative credit events have been registered. As the register is in its early days, I assume that there have not been many, but I wonder the level of monitoring in which the Minister is engaged of negative credit events noted in the register. Potentially they have enormous implications for people's lives, particularly of young people who are being flooded with advertisements offering cheap, fast credit.

The loan is now online. One sees ads with a smiling couple as one comes in from the airport or when one is on a bus. The smiling young couple are told they can now get quite a big loan in a couple of hours or a couple of days. I do not know how much caution accompanies those very rapid credit decisions. They are like the letters we used to all receive during the last boom saying we were good for a particular amount of credit. Older people are more credit-averse but younger people, understandably, when they see these incredibly seductive ads, may well be tempted. I would like the Minister of State to tell us, when he is going through the amendment, how the credit register is working out and what he is doing to protect young borrowers. Has the Department tightened up car loans because the terms and conditions on which they are based can be easily defaulted on resulting in a negative credit event for people?

The Government was very keen on strategic communications. Would it not be a good idea if the Department was to do a deal with provincial newspapers and radio stations and national broadcasters, including television and radio, to have more consumer information education? There was a very large strategic communications unit. There needs to be more education about consumer information and about some of these products.

Going back to the financial transactions tax, the Irish position has been we would do it if everybody else joined it. At the end of the day one of the few ways of really ensuring there is a legally enforceable requirement to describe all different types of instruments and properly record all different types of transactions is to have them affected by the tax code so they must be recorded and that there is a record which is available to the tax authorities. That is also important in regard to money laundering and to international financial crimes. Europe has been relatively slow to deal with this area. We have a bewildering situation where an awful lot of very elderly people are under siege from different banks to prove their identity even when they are in nursing homes. I am sure some people here will be familiar with this from constituents. They are asked to give all sorts of information but at the same time other people seem to be able to pop down to the IFSC from time to time and there seems to be an awful lot of illegal cash and laundered cash sloshing around. Perhaps the Minister might tell us about how in the context of financial instruments there are walls being built to restrict money laundering and criminal use arising from the generation of drug money and so on.

I am delighted to have the brief opportunity to contribute on the Markets in Financial Instruments Bill 2018. I particularly thank the Houses of the Oireachtas Library and Research Service as always for providing us with some very useful and important back-up information.

The Ceann Comhairle's former colleague, former Minister for Finance and European Commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, famously called the stock exchange a casino and warned of the dangers now and again, when he was in the Minister of State's seat, for ordinary consumers and for organisations trying to protect their savings, insurance, pensions and other financial products. Recently, we have seen widespread public revulsion at the phenomenon of family household mortgages being bought and sold and bundled into so-called financial instruments - the securitisation Deputy Burton referred to - to be traded on stock exchanges in the European Union, the US and Asia. There is a strong public perception that financial markets have never been properly regulated and that there has never been any real accountability. The former Minister and Commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, was right that they are casinos where the house always wins and the punter is always at a loss.

This perception is heightened by the horrors revealed in the financial crash of 2008 where leadership of banks such as Lehman Brothers in the US, Royal Bank of Scotland in the UK, Anglo Irish Bank and the Irish Nationwide Building Society in Ireland destroyed the credit and pensions of whole nations and in the case of the UK and Ireland had to be propped up at terrible and enduring cost to ordinary citizens. As a country we have been plagued for 40 or 50 years with a litany of insurance and financial scandals going right back to the 1970s, with the allied failure of the Central Bank and the Department of Finance to protect us as financial consumers throughout that period.

The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive 2004/39/EC, MiFID I, preceded the financial crash. MiFID I came into effect in Ireland on 1 November 2007 and was transposed via statutory instrument. MiFID I was the EU’s attempt to standardise regulation for investment services across EU member states but it was clearly a case of shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted. Certainly MiFID I seems to have had minimal effect in alleviating the wild-west banking and financial markets conditions which gave us a decade of austerity and poverty. It is also striking that it is only now, a decade later, that amendments are being made by this Bill to MiFID II, the revision of MiFID I, to respond to the disastrous global financial crisis since 2008.

MiFID II and its two linked pieces of EU legislation was transferred into Irish law by statutory instrument as the European Union (Markets in Financial Instruments) Regulations 2017, SI 357/2017, on 10 August 2017 and took effect on 3 January 2018. In Irish legislation, the Markets in Financial Instruments and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2007 permitted criminal sanctions to be imposed for breaches of MiFID I rules. The Bill before us, the Markets in Financial Instruments Bill 2018, provides for a continuation of the same regime of criminal sanctions for serious offences under MiFID rules. MiFID II was to be transposed by all member states by 3 January 2017 and it seems that fears that the industry could not adapt in time to the MiFID II rules has led to this delay in implementation. The Minister of State might respond on the issue of whether Germany and the UK have received long derogations of 30 months from last January. The UK will be a separate economic entity in March 2019 but Germany seems to have a special regime in this regard.

The financial markets industry has apparently complained that MiFID II with its 1.7 million paragraphs is onerous and hugely time consuming with big hidden costs. The complaints of industry regulators such as Steven Maijoor of ESMA, the European Securities and Markets Authority, suggests there is dragging of feet on implementing the new legislation. Information on so-called dark pools, which Deputy Doherty referred to, or trading in private venues with prices being disclosed only after trades are completed, which is greatly discouraged by MiFID II, seems to be totally deficient. Effects of the legislation that target conflicts of interest arising from how investment managers compensate brokers for research services have also been criticised by analysts who fear that investment managers will cut back on research from brokers and banks. The most important issue there is a conflict of interest. These types of concerns have been relayed to the Central Bank which has also heard that Irish firms which are part of international groups with broader group-wide MiFID II projects also have the additional responsibility of ensuring their Irish firms implement their own MiFID compliance steps at local level.

I echo the comments of Deputy Michael McGrath. We do not seem to get the benefit of the single EU market in financial services. We seem to have had much of the downside over the past decade. Where are the benefits in terms of the interest rates and so on that we pay?

I welcome the key elements of the Markets in Financial Instruments Bill 2018, in particular section 5 which defines these markets and provides that a person guilty of an offence under the MiFID II rules is liable on conviction on indictment to a maximum penalty of €10 million and-or imprisonment for ten years. Section 6 empowers the Central Bank to charge fees in respect of its function under the MiFID II regulations of 2017, and section 7 amends schedule 2 of the Central Bank Act 1942 to ensure that the Central Bank's powers will encompass EU legislation. Section 8, amending section 2 of the Credit Reporting Act 2013, is very important and extends the definition of credit to include trade credit in the Central Credit Register in areas of loans, deferred payments and so on. Section 9, on the expansion of the definition of "long-term financial service" to include life assurance products in line with the EU insurance regulations of 2015, is also noteworthy, and the statutory footing basis to enable the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman to respond to consumers' complaints is very timely.

Key elements of the MiFID regulations that are especially welcome include the extension of the pre and post-trade transparency rules provided for under MiFID I to include depository receipts, exchange-traded funds, ETFs, certificates and other similar financial instruments. The new high frequency trading rules are also critical in our era of almost instantaneous information technology, IT, systems. The Minister of State referred to algorithms and modern computer systems that are capable of real-time trading. The corporate and product governance rules in MiFID II are also vital aspects of any type of fair financial market. It is important that banking capital requirements provisions are now being extended to investment firms, that firms must have explicit arrangements for the governance of financial products and that staff incentives do not cause conflicts of interest. The new trade repository rules with early consolidated tape of trade reports and the so-called best execution model from MiFID I requiring firms to take what are referred to as "all reasonable steps" to obtain best execution of their clients' orders will also, it is hoped, make financial markets much less opaque.

A huge question over MiFID II and the legislation before us today is posed by Brexit. Concerns have been expressed in the European Parliament and elsewhere that Brexit risks reversing the impacts, such as they are, of MiFID I and MiFID II and about the idea that Brexiteers in particular have that the UK will become a huge offshore financial centre doing its own thing. When we discussed insurance companies here recently, we saw the extreme closeness between the UK financial market and our own. Kay Swinburne MEP, who helped to draft MiFID II, told a recent conference that, "All the work we've done over the last decade, fixing the financial crisis, making the global system work, making that regulatory co-operation a day-to-day activity, is in danger of being lost." A key part of the Brexit negotiations concerns the kind of access, and its cost, which London City firms will have to the EU after Brexit. We discussed what Britain's contributions would be post Brexit. They will have to be significant if it wants to passport its financial companies into the EU. We discussed this recently at the Oireachtas Select Committee on Budgetary Oversight. The EU has indicated it will seek enhanced so-called "equivalence", but it is difficult to say how this will be agreed and how Irish financial markets will be affected in any post-Brexit free-for-all. That is a heavy responsibility for the Minister of State and the Minister. There is a real worry now also that the next financial crisis may come from the non-banking financial sector where EU and US regulators have struggled to keep up with rapidly changing markets. The Irish Stock Exchange now trades as Euronext Dublin and is 100% owned by Euronext, the leading pan-European exchange in the eurozone. These worries about the impact of Brexit on MiFID II and this legislation are very real, and perhaps the Minister of State will give us the most up-to-date position in his reply.

There are other concerns also about the operation of MiFID II since January. The European Securities and Markets Authority, ESMA, reported yesterday that less than 1% of bonds in the EU today are subject to the live reporting requirements in MiFID II which I referred to. ESMA said yesterday that in the first quarter, just 220 of the 71,000 bonds it monitors or 0.3% were liquid or traded enough to be subjected to the MiFID II rules. This report echoes other comments by ESMA over the lack of data for other key MiFID initiatives, including the curbing of share trading on the anonymous venues known as dark pools.

Some analysts believe, however, that the number of bonds deemed liquid enough to be subject to MiFID II’s reporting requirements are likely to rise as the quality of data improves. The Minister of State might comment on these aspects of the likely efficacy of MiFID II given the generally poor performance, or non-performance, of MiFID I. Some analysts are fearful also that research is starting to be restricted in small and mid-cap markets due to MiFID II and small investors will have much less data on which to base their investment strategies. I echo Deputy Burton's comments on financial education for young people, particularly in light of the perception that, increasingly, people will be in charge of their own pension arrangements.

UK and German regulations have also given extensions up to 30 months from 1 January for the implementation of MiFID II, and the Minister of State might comment on how that has operated here since January. There have been many failures of financial regulation over the decades and we hope that this Bill and the attempt to bring accountability to this area will prove an important step in creating a situation such that we do not have to undergo this suffering again.

Without wanting to stray too far off the subject of debate, we were due to debate this Bill last night but we spent between 3.5 and four hours debating a Bill which we had expected to deal with in the House in three or four hours the previous week. In other words, seven or eight hours have been spent on the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017. I deeply respect the right of all colleagues to have their say on all matters that affect their constituencies and people have spoken at length because the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017 was recommitted.

We are not here now to talk about the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017.

This is the first opportunity I have had to speak publicly to the Ceann Comhairle and it is-----

The matter was discussed this morning at the Business Committee and a general approach was considered.

I would hope that would be the case because the character of the debate was unfortunate and was very upsetting to relatives-----

It is not appropriate to discuss it now.

-----of the victims who were in the Gallery. Between 25,000 and 30,000 families have been profoundly affected by road crashes in the past ten years. I am glad to hear that the Ceann Comhairle and the Business Committee have taken an initiative to ensure that we can have a speedy debate. We could have dealt with this Bill and had more time for other activities and other parts of the Government's agenda today.

I welcome the Bill in front of us and I will support it. Although I am not a member of the Oireachtas Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, I hope to raise a couple of issues on Report Stage.

I am tempted to reply to that.

Please do not.

I have known Deputy Broughan for a long time and I would never try to stifle him in a debate on serious issues. We did not set out to upset anyone but only to represent our constituents.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill. I do not see many here to speak on it and do not know what difference it would have made if we had debated it last night. This Bill is complex, like so many that have come our way from Europe, but it is not all bad. I refer in particular to the repeal and replacement of the criminal sanctions in section 3 that proposes to repeal section 5 of the Markets in Financial Instruments and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2007, which sets out the penalties for conviction on indictment of Irish investment services in law. This is very timely and ours is one of the last governments to comply with this.

We saw the results of all that went on when the markets went crazy. The EU has to take some of the blame for that. The ECB and European banks continued to trade recklessly in respect of investments in our economy and then they fled, offering us a bailout which at the time I called a clean out. Interest was at almost 6% whereas the International Monetary Fund, IMF, gave it to us for less than 3%. Our true friends were scarce when we put out our hand for support.

This should have been a costly lesson. We must play our part and close any loophole which enables high flyers and investors to benefit from financial schemes. As stated by Deputy Thomas P. Broughan and others, transactions of massive scale can be made within minutes or hours such that it is very hard to have transparency and traceability. Many of the transactions can have sweeping effects on economies, businesses and ordinary people.

As the explanatory memorandum makes clear, section 5 of the Bill proposes the reintroduction of the same criminal sanctions, but they will now apply to relevant offences under the revised MiFID II rules. It is important to expand on this section. Section 5 of the 2007 Act provides that a person found guilty of an offence under subsection (2) is liable on conviction or indictment to a fine not exceeding €10 million or imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or both. These are hefty penalties, but investigation of compliance can often be a meandering pathway. Perhaps the Minister of State, Deputy Michael D'Arcy, might tell us if there are jurisdictions in which there have been investigations, trials and successful prosecutions. The penalties set out in section 5 of the 2007 Act are without prejudice to penalties provided for in Irish investment services law. It is important there not be situations where this measure will interfere with penalties applicable on summary conviction for an offence or the ability to bring summary proceedings for any offence under Irish investment services law. I hope there will not be a conflation of the two and that people will not escape the full rigour of the law by virtue of there being two schemes.

All of this is confusing for the lay person, including me, who is not versed in the detailed terminology of financial law which is very challenging to understand, unless someone is a legal or financial expert. However, it is crystal clear that we need to ensure there will be robust sanctions in place for irregular and criminal actions within the European financial sector. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan failed to mention that during our discussions last night on the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill 2017 which passed all Stages we discussed the issue of traceability and our ability to track down the financial geniuses who earned their wealth by way of crime. They have all the time in the world to prey on their victims and plan schemes to enable them to make lucrative investments abroad in wonderful places, using hotels and fancy gym facilities as fronts for their investments. Many of them are involved in ponzi schemes. We, therefore, need to ensure Interpol and other European agencies are active in this area. We also need to put our shoulders to the wheel in that regard. The Bill is relevant in that context at this time.

Section 8 deals with the credit register, while section 9 provides that life insurance products will also be included, which is timely as many of us have been victims of small-scale schemes. Some of the bigger schemes needed to be regulated properly and brought in under the MiFID II rules. This is important in the context of corporate governance. We can have all of the corporate governance rules we want, but we need to enforce them and ensure we also adhere to the spirit of the law. We have seen incidents of reckless trading, in respect of which there has been little or no corporate governance. The governance arrangements that were in place were scant and there was little respect for them. There is always corporate governance when it comes to the small man and PAYE employees and so on, but when it comes to white collar crime and senior cavalier traders and big business, there is little success in holding them to account, as we have seen in the courts system. They play games of cat and mouse with State institutions, including the Garda Fraud Squad, the Criminal Assets Bureau and the prosecution service, and also hire the brightest and most expensive lawyers. We cannot allow this to continue. There must be some sense of parity and respect across the board for the rule of law. The Minister of State and I know, as does everybody else, that the con artists who participate in these ponzi schemes are way ahead of us. We are playing catch-up all of the time in legislation and in instances where we were successful, the penalties did not fit the crime. I am delighted that there are strong penalties provided for in the Bill, but they will be of no use on the Statue Book if they are not implemented. While we must always respect people's rights in that they are innocent until proved guilty, we need to be rigorous, vigorous and upfront in monitoring and ensuring oversight. Many of the watchdogs are not effective. We have too many agencies and there is too much criss-crossing.

I am happy to support Deputy Michael McGrath's proposed Bill on data protection. Elected representatives will be made redundant. We will be able to speak about issues in the House, but we will not be able to make representations on behalf of our constituents. The purpose of what is being proposed is to silence people and lock out the public in terms of their rights when it comes to banks and insurance and ponzi schemes.

There will be no come-back. If we are not careful, we will be locked out from representing people, unfortunate individuals, whether they are self-employed or ordinary decent families who are trying to make a living. We are going down a very dangerous road in this legislation and other legislation yet to be introduced. I do not know if an analysis is ever carried out of the impact of some of the regulations passed by this House. Is provision made for a review of measures after six or 12 months to determine whether they are fit for purpose and having the desired effect because often they do not?

We need to ensure we have robust sanctions in place for irregular or criminal actions with the European financial sector. As I said, this legislation is very confusing for the lay person who is not versed in the detailed terminology of financial law. It is a matter for us, as legislators, to produce proper legislation and to follow through on it by way of its implementation. I note from Reuters news agency that regulators in the United States and Europe have imposed fines of $342 billion on banks since 2009 for misconduct, including violation of anti-money laundering rules, and that this figure is likely to increase to $400 billion by 2020. They are staggering figures. As I said, the fines were imposed by regulators in the United States and Europe. What have we done? I have said previously that all we are doing is rubbing soap on the fat sows with no hair. We are praising them, not holding them to account and letting them off, never mind fining them. I refer to the tracker mortgage scandal and the number of people who were overcharged. There was systemic overcharging of accounts. The banks do not care or give a toss. I know of many families, as I am sure Deputy Michael McGrath and other Deputies do, who are struggling to keep up their repayments at punitive interest rates.

To be downright robbed from within the bank is shameful, but it is happening. When I was young the bank robbers were on the streets, occasionally with guns, and it was highway robbery. Now, however, it is happening secretly and silently from within the banks. I am not blaming the bank tellers or the managers we meet every day, I am blaming a serious deceit, a marauding undermining of people's right to their proper interest rate and their right to have their accounts. In some cases money has gone missing from accounts or else it is invested in Ponzi schemes and I have heard of many such cases. Okay, the person had to sign up for those schemes but many people who signed up had no idea what they were signing up to and then the whole lot crashed and the money is gone. Like snow off a ditch, it has just disappeared.

We still have these banks, in which the Minister of State and his Government have massive shareholdings, and we are looking at the sale of a lot of mortgage loans for houses, farms and businesses. As a shareholder the Minister was asked by a colleague of mine if he could stop those sales - because he can - and he said he would speak to them at the time but it was a matter for the banks to do all their business. He would look at it when it was finished. That, however, will be too late. It would be trying to close the stable door when the horse has bolted; way too late. We have seen too much of this.

The European Parliament has noted:

Due to the number and scale of cases in which banks were in recent years fined for misconduct, namely for the wilful or intentional disregard of laws, ethics or internal governance and controls, that issue has a potential to create systemic risks [to the banking sector]; the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) already published a dedicated Report on misconduct risk in the banking sector in 2015.

That ESRB report was three years ago. Where is that report or what accountants have taken away the reports? They may not build castles but is anything being acted on? This is very serious and has the potential to create systemic risks in the banking sector and the European Systemic Risk Board has already published a dedicated report. Are we aware? Are we sleepwalking into another devastating banking crisis? We could very easily be doing so. One can walk out the front door here and see all the cranes in the city with development happening. We had boasted before about them but unfortunately they are not for houses or small businesses. All the development is for big investments. We welcome those investments also but in the city we have no room to breathe never mind to live.

In its report the ESRB indicated that over a recent five-year period, the sum of fines has increased significantly reaching a cumulative total of around €200 billion for all banks and €50 billion for EU banks. This clearly indicates the need to not only reform but to introduce severe penalties. The facts are laid before us and the evidence is there. Ireland has been badly burned - scalded in fact - and we need to ensure we have the robust mechanisms in place and robust enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute. Let it hurt where it should hurt - in their pockets. It was fine to hurt the ordinary taxpayer when we had punitive taxation after the crash, but it does not hurt the board of directors if they do not feel it in their pockets. Now we see the audacity of bankers back clamouring for increased pay for their senior bankers. They have very short memories or else they think we are all fools. This is what they think. We have all been fools and the patsys for them, and they got away with it.

On Tuesday we learned that KBC had a family in the courts seeking to purge the family's contempt in the case of a house in Balbriggan. The law agents of this State broke into the house and they resisted, and the family ended up down in the courts. We are very good at that, we have all the power when it comes to the banks and all the State's resources are used. The special forces such as An Garda Síochána often give cover to what I would call marauding thugs who have no business in this country - some of them are ex-soldiers or mercenaries - and who perpetrate fear and terror on families. There is no place for that in our modern democracy but it is happening. There is very little solace for these families in the courts. If they go to the court as lay litigants they have no hope at all. It is the might of the law, the institutions and the regulators on the little people - na daoine beaga - and small businesses and farmers. When it comes to the big and powerful, however, the EU and the Irish institutions can be very slow, feeble, meek and inept in getting after them. Under our Constitution, it should be the same for everybody. I welcome the Bill and will support it but I would like to see some kind of review of it, and some kind of traceability as to its effectiveness. If it is not effective it needs to be beefed up further.

I thank all the Deputies for their contributions. I will respond in as much detail as I can.

This legislation, the Markets in Financial Instruments Bill 2018, is very important. Ireland has developed a large financial services sector that is twice the size of the European average and employs more than 90,000 people in domestic and international financial services. I will put this into context; it is broken down into 43,000 people who work on the international side and 47,000 people who work on the domestic side. This is the size of the sector. The sector provides two and half times the value of the agriculture and food sectors. There is €33 billion worth of exports from the international financial services sector and Ireland is the fourth largest exporter of these services in the European Union. Soon, when the British leave the EU, Ireland will be the third largest exporter. In this context, the legislation is very important.

The process of reform has turned from crisis management into how financial markets can serve the broad policy objectives of jobs and growth. We believe that putting in place criminal sanctions for serious infringement of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, MiFID, rules will provide a deterrent effect against any blatant misbehaviour and thus promote orderly markets, market integrity and investor protection.

Similarly the essential technical amendments to both the Credit Reporting Act 2013 and the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017 are required to ensure that the central credit register and Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman cover the products envisaged by the Government when initially enacted.

I am aware - and it has been mentioned by Deputies - of an issue around whole-of-life policies and another issue relating to part of the definition where a product is clearly intended to be a long-term product but its term is not fixed. My officials are in contact with the Office of the Attorney General and will continue to examine these issues; it may be that a Committee Stage amendment would be appropriate. I want to assure Members who raised the issue of the whole-of-life policies that officials from the Department of Finance will be available to try to ensure the spirit of co-operation that we all took on, between the Fianna Fáil Bill, the Sinn Féin Bill and subsequently the Government Bill, to try to put in place the best legislation. It was brought to my attention, almost immediately, that the whole-of-life products were not covered. I believe it came up in the Seanad debate after we had finished in this Chamber. I am disappointed with that. I shall not pretend. We all acted in the best interest to make sure that as many products as possible were covered. This has not been covered. Officials from the Department of Finance will be available to whoever wishes to contact them to bring this to a conclusion.

Deputies Doherty and McGrath outlined concerns for constituents. I have similar constituents in my area who have outlined the issues around the whole-of-life products. I would like to see it concluded and we have the opportunity to do so now.

I will try to touch on as many aspects of this as I can. Deputy McGrath spoke of the tracker scandal and holding people accountable. The Minister, Deputy Donohoe, and the Department of Finance are ensuring this happens. The Minister has put a lot of effort and personal energy into this. I believe it is moving in the right direction because of the Minister's intervention.

Reference was made to engagement with the Central Bank in the context of white-collar crime. I do not see anything wrong with wanting that engagement.

With regard to the capital markets and monetary union the Government believes it is crucial to move the Irish economy into the next phase. The next phase would mean a person could purchase a mortgage on the Continent at continental interest rates and purchase insurance on the Continent at continental rates.

We are doing everything we can to ensure that it happens. We are hopeful that, within the next six to nine months before the end of this calendar year, there will be significant movement. Approximately two thirds of the areas are now resolved. There is a third still to be done. To be fair to the Bulgarian Presidency, it is something it has prioritised and it is at the top of the priority list so that we have a Single Market in Europe for those products for the citizens of Europe.

I touched upon the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman and the statutory limitations relating to that. In response to Deputy Pearse Doherty, the reason that primary legislation is required for this is that it is a criminal sanction. The previous legislation was transposed by statutory instrument and that is sufficient for the legislation. Where there is criminal sanction, primary legislation is required. As for whether composite legislation is required, I do not know the answer to that. We can look at it. There is quite a lot of legislation moving through the Department of Finance at present. The Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2017 is one such Bill, on foot of the Setanta issue. Deputy Michael McGrath is eager to have that done.

I wish to touch upon the shadow banking aspect of finance. Figures are quoted to the effect that it is 25% of the sector, possibly as high as 30%. To put that into context with regard to the funding side in Ireland, there is €4 trillion under administration in Ireland. That is the level of funds that are traded. We are one of the largest trading centres in the world. I am concerned about it. It is a legitimate concern, not just of mine but of every central bank in the world that there is a sector that is unregulated to such a degree and we are continually playing catch-up. Central banks worldwide are doing their best to ensure that we are catching up.

I have touched upon the fixed term, the whole-of-life policy and the mis-selling of products. Nobody would be happier to see the conclusion of the tracker issue than us. Deputy Burton raised the issue of the Tobin financial transaction tax. We have a stamp duty rate here of 1% on transactions that gathers in €428 million. We have a tax in place. Deputy Burton is talking about a tax that we cannot adopt on our own. There is a requirement for it to be international. We have seen this before with regard to digital taxation here in Europe. There needs to be a global impact from this taxation. The companies in question are global. They are not just based in one particular area and capital is very liquid. It can shift very quickly.

On the credit register, I will ask officials from the Department to speak with the Central Bank. I do not know that it is available from the Central Bank for the Department of Finance to give out here. I am not able to answer that question. The credit register is there to outline people's credit history and nothing else. It is not there to make a determination as to whether it was a loan for a young person or not. That is outside its remit.

I am not sure that a consumer information campaign is the role of the Department of Finance. There are auspices within rural areas for people to engage in that. I do not have the answer for Deputy Broughan's question about the UK and Germany and the period for non-implementation of MiFID II. We can try to get that information and make it available to the House, perhaps on Committee Stage. Deputy Broughan made a point about EU equivalence with the UK. That remains to be seen. We are getting close to the conclusion of the conversation on Brexit discussions. As to whether there will be a trade deal including services, the Irish Government has been clear that we believe it is in everybody's interest that we retain a close trading relationship with our UK counterparts, since there is a huge amount of crossover. When I say "we", it is a European "we" and not just an Irish "we". The UK will remain as a global hub for financial services. There is no question about that. That will not change. It will lose some business because of the opportunity to passport into the free trade area that will be the EU 27. That is unquestionable.

I have not touched on everything. I am not sure how much time I have. Since the financial crisis, there has been a substantial body of work with legislation coming from our European colleagues. The legislative initiatives that have been put in place to ensure that the financial markets are more transparent and resilient, including the capital requirements directive, CRD IV, MiFID II, bank recovery and resolution, BRRD, and the benchmarking regulation, have all been transposed into Irish law in order that we are not behind the curve. I am very pleased with that. The sanctions are significant, whether ten years in jail or €10 million. Those are substantial sanctions. That is why we must use primary legislation. I have touched on the Single Market and capital markets, and just about everything. I thank the members of the finance committee, in particular relating to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017. Everybody worked well together and I think we can work equally well on this occasion to try to conclude the matter relating to whole-of-life policies. I think we can conclude that.

Question put and agreed to.