Investment Limited Partnerships (Amendment) Bill 2019: Second Stage

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

I welcome the opportunity to address Dáil Éireann today on the Investment Limited Partnerships (Amendment) Bill 2019, which was published on 18 June 2019. The Bill seeks to update the operation of the Investment Limited Partnerships Act to implement changes which were put forward in the IFS 2020 action plan and more recently the Ireland for Finance strategy. The amendments proposed in the Bill will modernise the operation of investment limited partnerships, ILPs, in Ireland. These amendments will support the further development of the funds industry in Ireland. As part of these amendments to the ILP framework, the Bill is also making a number of technical amendments to the Irish Collective Asset Management Vehicles Act of 2015.

The Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, and I launched the Ireland for Finance strategy earlier this year. It is a multi-annual plan setting out the Government's commitment to further develop the successful international financial services industry. The strategy makes clear that Ireland's success in attracting top tier global financial services is set against an increasingly dynamic and competitive backdrop. The changes I put forward today to amend the Investment Limited Partnerships Act 1994 and the Irish Collective Asset-management Vehicles Act 2015, known as the ICAV Act, form part of that strategy. They aim to enhance Ireland's offering for investment funds and improve our robust and transparent regulatory environment for investment funds.

The Irish funds industry is a key part of the internationally traded financial services sector, also referred to as the IFS. In June 2019, there were 7,531 investment funds authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Some 16,000 people are employed directly and indirectly in the industry and the industry generates substantial direct and indirect Exchequer receipts. The funds industry in Ireland is not just based in Dublin but provides high quality jobs across the country. Ireland's offering in alternative investment fund domiciliation is already strong due to a highly educated and motivated staff and a pro-business environment that is overseen by a regulatory regime, which is responsive to the needs of industry while all the time ensuring the protection of the interests of investors. The intention of this Bill is to ensure our corporate structures for investment funds remain fit for purpose and maintain our strong global reputation as a jurisdiction to domicile investment funds.

An investment limited partnership, ILP, is a regulated partnership structure that does not have a separate legal personality. ILPs are tailored specifically for investment in a collective investment fund. An ILP is formed under the Investment Limited Partnerships Act 1994 and is established once it is authorised by the Central Bank of Ireland. It is constituted according to the partnership agreement entered into by one or more general partners, who manage the business of the partnership, and any number of limited partners. The general partner has unlimited liability in this structure, while limited partners can, at a maximum, only lose their investment in the ILP.

When compared with our other investment funds vehicles ILPs have particular advantages for specialised investment schemes such as private equity or venture capital funds which have smaller numbers of professional investors and also have more bespoke investment structures, such as investments made by partners at predetermined points in time and different ways of splitting the gains and losses from the partnership. In an ILP, the general partner is responsible for managing the business of the ILP and is ultimately liable for the debts and obligations of the ILP to the extent that the ILP does not have sufficient assets. An ILP is subject to oversight by the Central Bank of Ireland and will be subject to its rules regarding Irish domiciled alternative investment funds.

The ILP Act has been in use since 1994. It is widely acknowledged that it is needs to be updated to fit the environment at which it is aimed and to take account of the changes that have been introduced in Europe via the alternative investment fund managers directive, AIFMD. This revision is aimed at modernising the legislation by making changes such as allowing an advisory role in the management of the fund for limited partners without putting their limited liability at risk. The changes proposed in this Bill will enable Irish industry to compete for some of the global private equity market that to date has chosen other European or global locations to base such investment funds.

The Bill also makes minor changes to the ICAV Act 2015, including correcting typographical errors and aligning the Act with other company legislation. The ICAV is a legal structure for the holding of investment schemes established in accordance with the ICAV Act 2015. The ICAV structure was specifically designed to be distinguishable from a trading company. A number of Irish company law provisions are often irrelevant or inappropriate to investment funds and can create unintended consequences where applied in the funds context. I will set out later the changes being made to the ICAV legislation in this Bill which are technical in nature.

I will now outline the key features of the Bill. The Bill contains three Parts. Part 1 is the preliminary and general section, Part 2 relates to ILPs and Part 3 to the ICAV Act. The first Part of the Bill consists of three sections. It deals with preliminary matters and contains definitions used in the Bill. Section 1 provides in standard form for the Short Title and commencement. Section 2 provides in a standard form the collective citation. Section 3 is a standard form for clarifying the Acts referred to in the Bill which are the Investment Limited Partnerships Act 1994 and the Irish Collective Asset-management Act 2015.

A number of changes to ILPs relate to alignment with EU and domestic funds legislation, for example, changing the term "custodian" to "depositary". There are also some typographical corrections, correction of cross-references and replacement of the term "Companies Act 1963" with "Companies Act 2014". Section 4 adds definitions for new terms relating to "alternative foreign name", "depositary", and "limited partner". The section also transfers responsibility for the Act from the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation to the Minister for Finance.

Section 5 replaces the word "custodian" with "depositary" throughout the Act of 1994 to align it with other funds legislation. Sections 6 and 35 insert text to permit the establishment of umbrella funds. These sub-funds permit the establishment of a fund with several distinct sub-funds that are traded as individual investment funds but are not liable for the debts of the other sub-funds under the umbrella. These funds will share a general partner but are ring-fenced from each other in the event of insolvency. This "umbrella" framework also exists in other investment fund vehicles, including ICAVs and common contractual funds.

Section 7 amends section 6(4) of the Act of 1994 to permit a limited partner to participate on boards and committees related to an investment limited partnership. This adds board participation to the "White List", a list of activities which, if undertaken by a limited partner, will be deemed not to be taking part in the conduct of the business and so does not result in loss of liability for a limited partner. The white list concept is common to limited partnership regimes in other jurisdictions such as in the Legislative Reform (Private Fund Limited Partnerships) Order 2017 in the United Kingdom, which clearly sets out the actions that are not regarded as taking part in the management of the partnership business for the limited partner.

Section 8 amends section 8(4) of the Act of 1994 to correct the reference to the fee prescribed under the Central Bank Act 1942. This is to correct a typographical error. Section 9 amends section 8(4A) of the Act of 1994 correcting a cross-reference, adding reference to the "alternative foreign name", changing the "Companies Act 1963" reference to the "Companies Act 2014" and deleting the reference to "and address".

Section 10 adds a new section 8(4B) to the Act of 1994 to allow the use of an alternative foreign name in the case of foreign investment limited partnerships. Section 11 amends section 8 of the Act of 1994 by adding a new section 8A to give the Central Bank the power to refuse to authorise an investment limited partnership where the name, or alternative foreign name, of the ILP is deemed undesirable.

Section 12 substitutes section 10 of the Act of 1994 with new requirements for the Central Bank of Ireland to maintain records of all investment limited partnerships authorised. That is to align the requirements with records maintained with other funds legislation. Section 13 amends section 11(1) of the Act of 1994. Section 11(1A) of the 1994 Act sets out the requirements for amending a partnership agreement, requiring all partners to be notified prior to an alteration and provides for alterations in writing via the agreement of the majority of partners, provided the existing partnership agreement allows for changes via majority.

Section 11(1B) of the 1994 Act allows for alterations to the partnership agreement to be implemented if the depositary certifies in writing that the alteration does not prejudice the interests of the limited partnerships, provided that the alteration is not one which the Central Bank of Ireland stipulates must be made via section 11(1), and that the partnership agreement provides that the depositary has the power to certify that the alteration does not prejudice the interests.

Section 14 adds two new subsections to section 11 of the Act of 1994. Section 11(5) creates a statutory transfer of assets and liabilities on the admission or replacement of a general partner, so that all rights or property of the investment limited partnership shall vest in the incoming partner or existing general partners. Section 11(6) sets out a similar provision on the withdrawal of a general partner, wherein all rights or property of the investment limited partnership shall vest in the remaining partner or existing partners.

Section 15 amends section 12(2) of the Act of 1994 to stipulate that the words "investment limited partnership" or “comhpháirtíocht theoranta infheistíochta”, or "CTI", which the Irish acronym for ILP, must be used at the end of the name of every investment limited partnership. It also states that where an investment limited partnership is permitted to use an alternative foreign name, it must use the words "investment limited partnership" at the end of the name in the same language as the alternative foreign name.

Sections 16 and 17 are technical amendments relating to the maintenance of the register of the ILP. Section 18 deletes section 14(3) of the Act of 1994. Section 19 inserts a new subsection 19A to the Act of 1994 setting out the meaning of "majority of limited partners" for different purposes, for example, in regard to rights or interests of a majority of the limited partners, and in regard to its use of simple majority.

Section 20 replaces section 20 of the Act of 1994 and sets out how capital contributions by limited partners and liability of limited partners for partnership debts operates. Section 21 rewords and expands section 22(2) of the Act of 1994 for greater clarification. Section 22 clarifies that section 30 of the Bankruptcy Act 1988 only applies where the general partner adjudicated bankrupt is the sole general partner. Section 23 amends section 24(4) of the Act of 1994 by inserting two subsections to permit the investment limited partnership to purchase insurance for a general partner or auditor, or former general partner of a former auditor, to indemnify him against any liability in the event of a case of negligence or default where the general partner or auditor is found not be negligent or in default.

Section 24 amends section 24, subsections (5) and (6), of the Act of 1994 to ensure that if the partnership agreement provides that where a partner fails to perform any of its obligations under, or otherwise breaches, the partnership agreement, the sanctions applicable for the failure of performance or breach will not be unenforceable solely because they are penal in nature. This is necessary because courts in Ireland and other common law jurisdictions have previously determined that provisions in an agreement which impose additional obligations on a party in the event of a breach or a default may be unenforceable if they are subsequently adjudicated to be penal in nature.

Section 25 amends section 25, subsections (1) and (4), of the Act of 1994, substituting "a general partner" for "every general partner" in subsection (1) and "subsidiary" for "associated undertaking" in subsection (4). Section 26 amends section 27 of the Act of 1994 to provide greater clarification of the subsection being referenced and rewording of text. Section 27 amends section 29 of the Act of 1994 by deleting subsection (3) to remove the requirement for the bank to publish notice of revocation of authorisation in Iris Oifigiúil. Section 28 amends section 31(1) of the Act of 1994 by inserting the words "or depositary" after "proposed new general partner".

Section 29 amends section 33(3) of the Act of 1994. It is a technical amendment to require the general partner to notify the limited partners of a direction from the bank immediately upon receipt.

Section 30 amends section 35 of the Act of 1994 to correct a typographical error: section 35, subsections (7) and (8), are updated to refer to "officer of such a general partner" rather than "officer of the investment limited partnership."

Section 31 amends section 37 of the Act of 1994. Section 37, subsection (1), is amended to clarify that there must be at least one general partner so as to avoid conflict with section 5(1)(b) of the Act of 1994. Section 37, subsections (2) and (3), are amended so that the partnership is not immediately dissolved in the case of death, but within a time period as specified by the Central Bank of Ireland.

Section 32 clarifies that the limited partner does not have unlimited liability for the debts of the partnership once the partnership is dissolved unless the limited partner purports to carry on the business of the partnership after dissolution. Section 33 amends section 39 of the Act of 1994 to ensure that limited partners who do not take any part in the conduct of the business of the partnership cannot be prosecuted for any offences committed in the management of the partnership.

Section 34 amends the Act of 1994 by adding section 42A after section 42. Section 42A seeks to align the ability of an investment limited partnership to indemnify against liability with the ICAV Act 2015 and the Companies Act 2014. This reflects the changes that were introduced under the EU AIFMD, which provides for a liability regime for depositories set out under European legislation.

Section 37 adds a new section 2A to the ICAV Act 2015, providing supplemental interpretation provisions regarding ordinary and special resolutions. Section 38 amends sections 5 and 6 of the Act of 2015 to provide that the sole object in an ICAV constitutional document reflects Regulation 4(3)(a) of the UCITS Regulations (European Communities (Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities) Regulations 2011 (S.l. No. 352 of 2011)). Section 39 adds a new section 8A to the Act of 2015 to ensure that the validity of an act done by an ICAV shall not be called into question on the ground of lack of capacity by reason of anything contained in the ICAV's instrument of incorporation, without affecting the duty of the directors of an ICAV to observe any limitation on their powers.

Section 40 adds a new section 8B to the Act of 2015 after section 8A to provide that a contract entered into outside the vires of an ICAV is nevertheless enforceable. The Company Law Review Group recommended in its First Report 2000-2001 that the ultra vires doctrine be abolished for companies limited by shares. The omission of such a provision in the ICAV Act was not intentional and this amendment is to bring the Act in line with this recommendation.

Section 41 amends section 14(2) of the Act of 2015 to require the Central Bank of Ireland to update the register following the change of name of an ICAV. Section 42 amends section 30 of the Act of 2015 to require the Central Bank of Ireland to alter the copy of the registration order and notify the ICAV of the same following the change of name of an ICAV. Section 43 amends section 32 of the Act of 2015 by deleting subsection (7), removing the requirement for the director of an ICAV acting on behalf of various ICAVs to sign an agreement multiple times in respect of the various ICAVs to which that agreement relates.

Section 44 amends section 33 of the Act of 2015 by inserting a new subsection (4) after subsection (3), clarifying the requirements for affixing or attesting to the affixing of the seal in circumstances where an ICAV has a seal. This aligns with similar provisions in the Companies Act 2014. Section 45 adds a new section 85A to the Act of 2015 to allow an officer of an ICAV to make an application to the court in anticipation of apprehended proceedings.

Section 46 adds Part 5A after Part 5 of the Act of 2015 containing three new sections - sections 91A, 91B, and 91C - regarding written resolutions. This is to align the Act with the similar provisions in sections 193 to 195, inclusive, of the Companies Act 2014. This change will provide for written resolutions by members of an ICAV in regard to the ICAV itself or a sub-fund, as well as the existing ordinary and special resolutions at a general meeting. This amendment also requires two additional amendments: sections 36 and 51. Section 36 amends section 2 of the Act of 2015 by adding a new definition of "Category 4 offence" to the definitions. Section 51 amends section 186 of the Act of 2015 by inserting a new subsection after subsection (3) stating that a person guilty of a category 4 offence under the Act shall be liable to a class A fine.

Section 47 amends section 96 of the 2015 Act by substituting a new subsection (8) clarifying that where an investment company converts to an ICAV, the priority of pre-existing charges should remain unchanged.

I have a couple of pages left. It is important to put this on the record.

The Minister may do so if we get agreement.

I am happy for the Minister of State to continue.

Section 48 amends section 140 of the 2015 Act to correct a typographical error by substituting "waived" for "varied" to reflect the language used in section 1490 of the Companies Act 2014.

Section 49 amends section 141(1) of the 2015 Act by inserting "being the debts identified for the purposes of subsection (2)(b)" after "debts". This is to bring the Act into line with section 1415(1) of the Companies Act 2014, which requires that directors making a declaration of solvency declare that they have formed an opinion that the applicant company is able to pay its debts as they fall due.

Section 50 amends section 154(2) of the 2015 Act by the substitution in paragraph (h) of "sections 599 and 609" for "sections 600 and 609". This is to correct a typographical error.

I wish to inform the House that the Government intends to table a number of amendments on Committee Stage of the Bill. I intend to bring forward a number of technical changes to provide some additional clarity to the operation of the Bill following ongoing consultation with industry. In addition, there will be a substantive amendment related to the introduction of a beneficial ownership register for ILPs. This is to ensure any investors in an ILP structure will be treated the same as one in our other investment funds vehicles with separate legal personality or structured as a trust. The requirements of a beneficial ownership register on those other vehicles have been introduced via provisions in the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive, which do not apply to ILPs due to its partnership structure. Therefore, this important amendment will ensure a level playing field in the area of transparency for Ireland's corporate vehicles for investment funds and ensure that such entities meet the best international anti-money laundering standards. My officials are continuing to consider another potential amendment to provide for the redomiciliation of ILPs. These are complex amendments and are still being worked on by officials, who are engaging with the relevant State bodies and industry. If work is completed satisfactorily on these additional amendments, I will move them on Committee Stage. I wish to signal my intention to do so at this stage.

I hope the outline I have given will help Deputies understand the background and context underlining the benefits which will arise from the Bill. The Irish funds industry is, as I highlighted earlier, an important part of our international financial services sector based in Ireland. It is a significant employer and a sector we hope to see grow and deepen its links into the Irish economy throughout the country. Given its importance, it is now timely to make some legislative amendments to the framework, and I believe that this Bill will do just that. I look forward to hearing Members' contributions and assure them that I will be happy to provide any further clarifications they may need.

I will make just one final point, and I appreciate the Leas-Cheann Comhairle's indulgence. The industry tells me that with the passing of this legislation an additional 1,500 people will be employed directly because of the extent to which private equity will be based in Ireland. We currently have no such jobs. That is where we find ourselves. This Bill addresses that.

I am pleased to have an opportunity to contribute to the Second Stage debate on the Bill. It is appropriate to recognise the great success we have had in the area of international financial services. Successive Governments have worked on the sector. We as a party are very proud of the role we played in the 1980s in the establishment of the IFSC here in Dublin. Since then, international financial services have developed right throughout the country, and that is important to recognise.

Even in the Minister of State's plan for the next five years or so he has acknowledged some remarkable statistics, with 44,000 people now employed in international financial services. Fourteen of the top 15 global aircraft lessors are now based in Ireland. Ireland is home to 20 of the world's top 25 financial services companies. With more than €4 trillion in fund assets under administration, Ireland is the third largest global investment funds domicile, the largest European domicile for exchange-traded funds, ETFs, and a leading location worldwide for hedge fund administration. Seventeen of the top 20 global banks and 11 of the world's top 15 insurance companies have a presence in Ireland, and the Irish cross-Border insurance sector, the report points out, writes business into more than 100 countries with more than 25 million customers. By any yardstick, this is a very impressive record that Ireland has accrued over time in international financial services. This success cannot be taken for granted because this is a very dynamic industry in which the pace of change is rapid and the nature of the investment is highly mobile. We are increasingly facing a very competitive international environment, and this must be acknowledged and at the fore of the debate on the Bill.

Within the overall figure of 44,000 people, as the Minister of State said, more than 16,000 people are directly employed in the Irish funds industry, which is part of the wider international financial services industry. In that regard, Indecon, which carried out an independent impact assessment for Irish Funds, the industry body, of the industry's contribution to the Exchequer, put the figure at €837 million per annum. I saw this in real terms only last week in Cork, where the Tánaiste officiated at the official opening of the new Clearstream offices in Cork city, part of the Deutsche Börse Group, which operates within the funds industry in the depository space, providing post-trade infrastructure and security services. It now directly employs close to 500 people in the heart of Cork city, having moved in from Cork Airport Business Park. That is a phenomenal success story and we want to see much more of it. The Minister of State has had success in Wexford as well in bringing aspects of the fund industry there - or encouraging it, I should say.

We want to see more of that spread around the country in line with that trend because it is important.

All that is on the positive side. I do have to make a criticism of the delay in getting the Bill to the floor of the House. I have been asking questions for probably two years at this stage about the investment limited partnerships legislation. It has been pointed out to me, and no doubt to the Minister of State, on many occasions that the delay in bringing forward this legislation and in modernising the framework for ILPs in Ireland has cost us investment, particularly in the context of Brexit. Many decisions relating to ILPs have been already made, from which Ireland has not benefited. I think we have missed out on some benefits, but it is important we now move as quickly as we can while at the same time getting the legislation right. By the Minister of State's own acknowledgement, the legislative architecture has not kept pace with market or regulatory developments, so it is past time we focus on this legislation. I hope we can get it enacted in a reasonably short timeframe.

The Minister of State took us through the detail of the Bill in his opening speech and indicated that he intends to bring forward a number of amendments relating to the introduction of a beneficial ownership register for ILPs. He acknowledges that this is a complex area. I hope the work on those amendments will not delay us significantly and that we can move quickly because quite some time ago the members of the Oireachtas finance committee, on my suggestion, agreed to waive the right to pre-legislative scrutiny in order to try to get this legislation through the system.

The goodwill is there on our part to facilitate the passage of this Bill while also subjecting it to detailed examination on Committee and Report Stages in the normal fashion.

As the Minister of State outlined, an ILP is essentially a regulated partnership structure that does not have a separate legal personality. It is important to acknowledge that for a quarter of a century, Ireland has been a leading domicile for internationally distributed investment funds. Over that time, we have built a solid reputation as a well-regulated EU location for investment funds and a centre of excellence for services provided to investment funds, whether oversight, fund administration or depository legal compliance and audit. While we have had much success in the so-called open-ended fund structures, we have had much less success in the closed-ended space in which this ILP structure sits. That type of structure lends itself more as the vehicle of choice for investment in the real economy because it meets the requirements of long-term professional investors in ways that are hard to achieve in other fund structures. It is important to make that point and make the connection between the ILP structure and potential benefits it can bring for the real economy by way of actual investments that can deliver significant benefits to the country.

I understand that of more than 7,000 regulated investment funds in Ireland, only six or seven are ILPs, as the Minister of State mentioned. A limited partnership fund is a form of business partnership which is common globally in many of the key jurisdictions with which we compete. It is a common fund structure which is used as a vehicle for investment in the real economy. Given that the ILP legislation is 23 years old, it has been acknowledged already that it has not kept pace with developments in this area, including the most important regulatory development in the alternative investment fund space, the 2013 alternative investment fund managers directive or AIFMD.

I have been engaging, as I know the Minister of State has, with the sector for some time now to try to get a handle on what this legislation means from its perspective. We must have our own independent examination of that. I know the Central Bank was heavily involved in drafting the legislation. It is important to note that this is very much a regulated sector and ILPs are a regulated fund structure. The Central Bank will have the full suite of regulatory and enforcement powers at its disposal in respect of these fund structures under the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Act 2013. It is important to make clear that we are not talking about the wild west. These are highly regulated, sophisticated fund structures which will be monitored closely by the Central Bank. The Minister of State will need to reassure us that the Central Bank will be adequately resourced to meet the extra regulatory burden that will inevitably follow if there is major growth in the ILP space. As many as 1,500 jobs could be created in the coming years, which would mean considerable activity relating to ILP fund structures. The Central Bank will need to be resourced and have adequate expertise to ensure the area is properly regulated. That is a key point. The Central Bank carries out extensive reporting, including monthly and quarterly statistical reporting which is done on an aggregated basis, on all Irish regulated investment funds. As I understand, however, this reporting is not done specifically for any type of fund legal structure such as ILPs.

It is important that we examine in detail the nature of these fund structures and the impact they will have on tax, which will no doubt feature in the Committee Stage debate. Unlike corporate entities, partnerships are treated as transparent for tax purposes. Partnership funds, including ILPs, follow the same treatment. In essence, it means that investors or limited partners are treated as directly holding the underlying assets in the ILP and are taxed accordingly. Similar to other funds, when an ILP makes distributions to the limited partners, the limited partner will be taxed in its home jurisdiction according to the tax treatment applicable to it. As limited partners directly own a portion of the underlying assets, the investors can be subject to tax on capital gains or income even where they have not received the relevant cash proceeds. This is the case under the Irish tax system where investors, both resident and non-resident, will be individually liable to pay any taxes as they fall due in respect of Irish assets that they hold. An investor will have the same tax liabilities whether it purchases the asset itself or, alternatively, invests in an ILP which purchases the asset through that structure. We will tease out in greater detail on Committee Stage the taxation issues involved here. From my examination, I do not see any basis for an argument that the introduction of this legislation will facilitate tax avoidance because the investors are directly accountable and liable for their own tax liabilities on the basis that they are holding the assets directly as opposed to as a collective. It does not seem at this point to be a tax-driven structure. We will examine that matter on Committee Stage.

ILPs can be a very important vehicle for real investments. They typically invest in a very broad range of assets, ranging from equities and bonds to investments in non-listed companies, infrastructure, renewable energy and real estate. It is expected that the most significant proportion of the investment will be private equity in the area of non-listed companies, including venture capital in small and medium enterprises, SMEs, and start-ups, growth investing in established companies, and buy-outs. It is important to point out who the end investors are likely to be. They are professional investors and typically institutional investors. Investment in such funds comes predominantly from public pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, private sector pension funds and insurance companies. These institutional investors account for about three quarters of all investment in ILPs.

The Fianna Fáil Party is supportive of the Bill. We would like to see it progress to the next Stage as quickly as possible. We will engage collaboratively on Committee Stage and closely examine the Bill and any amendments the Minister of State proposes. It is important that the ILP legislation is updated. This will bring benefits for Ireland. It will facilitate further expansion of international financial services here and that is to be welcomed.

Deputy Pearse Doherty, who is at the National Ploughing Championships, sends his apologies. He asked me if I would contribute on this Bill and said it was a great opportunity as I might make the 9 o'clock news. I walked in and unfortunately Deputy Michael McGrath was on his own, so I think I have been sold a pig in a poke. As I am sure the Minister of State will agree, this is a highly technical Bill which is pitched towards one industry with its own needs and interests. I am sure he would also agree that for the vast majority of people, certainly those who I represent and, I would argue, those who the Minister of State represents, it is not the most pressing issue.

The people we represent would benefit more from the fast-tracking of many of the Opposition Bills on a wide range of issues, including my party's Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill 2017, than from legislation that will only delight private equity asset managers. There are an awful lot of Bills that are being held up through money messages and there are Opposition Bills dealing with a lot of the pressing issues that are bearing down on many families but the Government finds the time to bring forward this technical legislation which is aimed at a tiny number of people who live here.

The Irish investment limited partnership product was established under the 1994 Act. It was thought then that the ILP would become a popular investment vehicle for real estate investments and private equity. We know that the Bill before us is intended to update the existing ILP regime and make Ireland an attractive place for international investors. The ILP is a partnership whose primary business is investment in property of all kinds. It consists of one general partner who assumes unlimited liability and limited partners who assume assets and liabilities in proportion only to the capital they each contribute. The partnership does not have an independent legal status like a normal company but the profits are owned by the partners with each able to use tax reliefs available to that partnership. Unlike the general partner, the limited partner cannot take part in the management of the firm without taking on full liability for the partnership's debt and liabilities. The ILP is established as an alternative investment fund, AIF, and is regulated by the Central Bank.

We will return to Second Stage of the Bill after the next debate.

Debate adjourned.