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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Vol. 1021 No. 4

Safe Deposit Boxes and related Deposits Bill 2022: First Stage

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to make certain provisions, in accordance with the exigencies of the common good, in relation to property deposited in safe deposit boxes or other such safe keeping arrangements in certain institutions; to require such institutions to establish and maintain a register of deposited property and to take certain steps to identify and notify persons entitled to ownership of, or an interest in, certain deposited property and for those purposes to provide for the examination by institutions of certain deposited property that is unclaimed; to provide for inspection and retention on behalf of the State of unclaimed property by the Director of the National Museum of Ireland and inspection of unclaimed property by certain other bodies; to provide for disposal of unclaimed property that is not retained by the Director of the National Museum of Ireland, including by means of sale; to provide for the transfer of moneys from unclaimed property, including the proceeds of any sale of such property, to the Dormant Accounts Fund; to make certain provisions in relation to supervision and enforcement of compliance by institutions with the provisions of this Act; to make certain consequential amendments to other enactments; and to provide for related matters.

Molaim go dtabharfaí cead an Bille seo a chur faoi bhráid an Tí. Tá áthas orm an deis seo a fháil é sin a dhéanamh agus cead a lorg é a fhoilsiú. Bille cuimsitheach atá ann agus creidim féin go bhfuil tairbhe mhór ag baint leis. I am delighted to get this opportunity to introduce this Bill before the House. It is a comprehensive Bill with 30 sections and it has been four years in gestation.

I thank my colleagues on the Joint Committee on Social Protection, Rural and Community Development and the Islands for their interest in this Bill and the staff of the office of parliamentary legal advisers, OPLA, for all the work they have done. I also thank the person who came to me first and made what is a very interesting suggestion to me.

The Irish banks first opened in the late 18th century and since then they have held safe deposit boxes. It is believed that these boxes, many of which are unclaimed, could hold items of historical interest. In the event of no owner being identified the Bill proposes that those of historical interest should be transferred to the National Museum of Ireland, which might pass them on to other appropriate agencies such as the National Gallery and the National Library, while any cash not claimed should be lodged in the Dormant Accounts Fund.

The specific provisions of the Bill are broken into four parts. The first purpose is to create a register of property deposits in banks.

The second purpose is to identify the safekeeping property deposit where the records are sufficient to identify a living or beneficial owner starting with the oldest deposits first. There are all sorts of provisions included to publish and look for owners where they are not readily identifiable.

The third purpose is to examine all property where the owners are not identified and to notify the director of the National Museum of Ireland of any unclaimed property. He or she will then examine the property and decide whether it should be retained by the museum or by certain other bodies and put on display.

The Bill also provides for the transfer of unclaimed funds to the Dormant Accounts Fund.

I stress that the idea is that all safe deposits will be recorded in chronological order, from the beginning of the banks in the late 18th century, and no safe deposit box held by a bank for less than 80 years will be opened. The youngest age at which one is likely to be making such a deposit is 20, which means the safe deposit box would not be opened until that person is over 100 years of age.

The Bill is broken into several Parts, if the Ceann Comhairle will afford me a little indulgence. The first deals with preliminary and general matters, including the purposes of the Bill, the Short Title, the interpretation section, expenses and regulations and offences under the Bill. The second Part provides for registration, notification and examination of historical property deposits. The third Part provides for the retention by the State of unclaimed property. The fourth Part provides for notification of other persons for the performance of statutory functions. The fifth Part provides for the disposal of unclaimed property and the transfer of unclaimed moneys. The sixth Part provides for miscellaneous matters.

Gabhaim buíochas leis an gCeann Comhairle. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil mé thar an am ach tá go leor sa Bhille seo. Mar a deirim, tá 30 alt difriúil ann

Déanaim comhghairdeas leis an Teachta as an obair eisceachtúil. This is an exceptional and different item of legislation. Well done, Deputy. Is the Bill opposed?

Question put and agreed to.

Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Question put and agreed to.