Perhaps it is just me, but section 20 is a step too far and I cannot take it. There is just too much involved. In the first place, I see the function of the special manager as that of an examiner or a person appointed to run the business for a period. I wrote a letter to the Minister this week, although he will not have seen my name on it. My name was not on the bottom, but the letter came from a board of which I am a member and was an excellent one of its type. Let me paraphrase it: "Dear Minister, we have certain information, to which we believe your bank crisis investigator doctor should have access, but, unfortunately, under section 21 of the Companies Act 2003, we find it impossible to give you this information". That letter was sent from the board to the Minister within the past week.
I refer to section 20(8) which reads, "The special manager of a relevant institution shall provide such reports and other information to the Bank and the Minister as the Bank or the Minister requests, notwithstanding any other enactment or any rule of law, code of practice, agreement, duty or obligation to any person". The Data Commissioner will have a word to say about this, given that he runs riot over us on a regular basis as we try to do our day's work. I only wish this power could help to achieve some of what I want to achieve.
By law, the Central Bank is specifically prevented from sharing information. After the offshore banking problem in 2000, whether certain people had information became an issue. In 2002 I chaired the audit review group on behalf of the Government. We found that, although Revenue, the Central Bank and perhaps another institution might have had information, they could not have shared it with one another. We brought forward legislation that referred to constricted circumstances where there might be a conduit, in a fair, open and practical way, between these institutions. I do not believe the two lines I read will overturn this provision and I would be appalled if they did. Therefore, the Minister will have to find another way to do it.
On the same issue, subsection (6) reads, "A special manager may, with the consent of the Minister and the Governor, substitute his or her own decision for any decision that would otherwise be made by the shareholders, and if he or she does so, the decision shall be taken to be the decision of the shareholders". That leaves us in Alice in Wonderland territory where words mean what I say they mean. The Minister cannot do this. Let me provide an example from company law. It deals with the issues that create a problem for shareholders. The Minister has made speeches about company law, the operation of companies and the cold question of auditors. He knows we have been looking at the position of company auditors. The requirement concerning the appointment of a company auditor is so embedded in terms of the rights of shareholders that I cannot believe the two lines I read can make a difference. This brings us back to our earlier discussion on section 7(1)(d) during which I stated I would revert to an aspect of the matter. This is it. I put it to the Minister that these two lines cannot possibly deal with the issue. In regard to AGM reports, there are various requirements under company law for decisions to be taken by the shareholders. There is a way around this in the case of the banks. As the Minister is, effectively, the shareholder, I do not know why we have even to discuss this matter. However, there are other institutions in which he does not have an equity stake as such.
In spite of its bad report in recent days, there is one thing the Minister's Department is very good at, namely, finding a new word for something. The word "examinership" is an example. When we deal with an insurance company, we do not speak about examinership but something else — a word I cannot recall. For example, the Quinn insurance group is not in examinership. The Department of Finance is superb at finding a new word to describe something. The Minister is also very good at this — we had the word "supervening" from him during the week. However, he will have to be a little more creative——