I propose to take Questions Nos. 35 and 48 together.
I am very conscious of the difficulties referred to by the Deputy. While neither I, nor the Central Bank of Ireland, can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products, nor compel insurers to provide cover in the first place the Government, through the work of the cost of insurance working group, has identified the key problems that need to be addressed if we are to reduce significantly the cost of business insurance in particular.
In this regard, the work of the Personal Injuries Commission, PIC, has been of critical importance. It found that the level of awards here for soft tissue injuries were 4.4 times higher than in England and Wales. Such a discrepancy is unjustified and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
As the Deputy is aware, with the passage of the Judicial Council Act it is now a matter for the Judiciary to put in motion the necessary process to enable the introduction of new guidelines to recalibrate award levels and replace the book of quantum. I have allocated €1 million in budget 2020 to enable the council to be established. I am confident that the Judiciary recognises the need to prioritise this exercise and that they will take account of the PIC’s findings. The Law Reform Commission is currently undertaking a detailed analysis as to whether we could establish constitutionally sound legislation to cap or limit the amount of damages a court may award. It is due to report back next year.