I move: "That Report Stage be taken now."
I welcome the opportunity to speak to this Private Members' Bill. I gave a commitment to Deputy Michael McGrath that my Department and I would work with him on his proposed draft Bill to find a way in which the policy objectives of the Bill could be delivered. On Committee Stage, a significant amount of discussion took place on the Bill and since that time my officials and Deputy McGrath have worked to deal with some matters that have emerged. In addition, full agreement was not reached on whether the credit servicing regime or the retail credit servicing regime was the most appropriate. Between my Department and the Central Bank, we have been able to resolve some matters in this regard that emerged when the legislation was examined in detail.
The Central Bank has made it clear that it is satisfied with the approach taken to regulating owners as credit servicing firms. It has clearly stated that there is no material difference in the standard of regulation between retail credit firms and credit servicing firms. The bank has also clearly stated that neither category of firm is subject to a lower standard of regulatory scrutiny than the other. Therefore, I can state that I support all of the amendments that have been proposed by Deputy Michael McGrath.
The passage of this Bill also has to be seen in the light of the recent review of the code of conduct on mortgage arrears, which went through all of the various supports that were available to citizens who found themselves in difficulty, pointed to the fact that more than 100,000 mortgages had been restructured, and pointed out that many different options were available, with the Insolvency Service of Ireland doing a great deal of work in this area in particular. My message continues to be that those who find themselves in difficulty have to engage. Help is available. As I have affirmed to Deputy Michael McGrath, it is my intention that the Bill will be commenced as soon as possible after its enactment in the Dáil.