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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 4 Jul 2012

Vol. 216 No. 8

Credit Guarantee Bill 2012: Report and Final Stages

I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy John Perry, to the House.

Before we commence, I remind Senators that a Senator may speak only once on Report Stage, except for the proposer of an amendment, who may reply to the discussion on the amendment. On Report Stage each amendment must be seconded.

Government amendment No. 1:
In page 8, to delete lines 10 to 12.

I thank Senators for their contributions on this important Bill. Amendment No. 1 is a technical amendment to section 5. It seeks the removal of the provision in relation to the powers of the Minister to amend or revoke a scheme under section 5 of the Bill. There is an inherent power to amend or revoke a statutory instrument under section 22(3) of the Interpretation Act 2005. Accordingly, there is no need for the current revocation provision included in the Bill and the removal has been suggested by the Attorney General's office and the parliamentary draftsman.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

The debate on the Bill in the Seanad was very good and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation will consider the points raised. Confidence in the business world, the creation and retention of jobs and the effective recapitalisation of the banks are important. The State will provide €7 billion this year and €8 billion next year for areas where the banks may have a concern. It will help the critical sector of the Irish economy that employs 700,000 people.

I welcome the debate. The most important effect of the Bill will be in the area of job creation. Where a bank might have had a concern about lending, the State will give a guarantee. The Bill will complement the banking sector and make lending viable.

I thank all Senators for their contribution to the debate. As a Minister of State with responsibility for small business, it is important for me to listen to the views of Senators and to take them on board. The Bill will make a considerable difference.

The Microfinance Loan Fund Bill will also be a very welcome piece of legislation. It will allow people who have been refused loans by banks to borrow up to €25,000. The measures in that Bill will be separate from the credit guarantee scheme but the two together will add considerably to the suite of opportunities for people who are hoping to develop their businesses.

I compliment the officials in my Department who have done trojan work on the Bill. They worked late at night and during weekends. People assume legislation is simply done. This is a skilled piece of legislation. It had to be fine tuned and various approvals sought. We are fortunate to have such officials. Since my appointment as Minister of State dealing with the SME sector, I have worked with the Minister and the Minister of State, Deputy Sherlock. The commitment of the Taoiseach has been wonderful. Our team is complemented by the extraordinary civil servants. By 2016, we will make Ireland one of the best economies in which to establish, grow and develop a business. Since my appointment, I have seen what one will not see on the front pages of the newspapers, namely, the extraordinary determination of Irish business people to succeed.

The Enterprise Ireland report that was launched last week should be discussed in the Seanad. It is an extraordinary document. I will go to Donegal on Thursday next for the regional launch of the document. There is extraordinary determination among Irish business people. Irish exports are valued at €18 billion per annum.

The Bill, when enacted fully and operated by Capita Asset Services, will complement the banks and the Credit Review Office. I appeal to people who have been refused loans by the banks to appeal the refusal externally to Mr. John Trethowan. The Credit Guarantee Bill will complement the banking sector which has been recapitalised by the Government.

Thank you, Acting Chairman. I am delighted the Bill has passed all Stages.

I thank the Minister of State for his contribution today and last week on Committee Stage. I also thank the Minister for his contribution on Second Stage. This is an important Bill and will help companies that have been refused credit by banks. It will also serve to educate banks on the new types of businesses that are out there and give them the confidence to move forward and engage with businesses, particularly those that fall outside their remit and have not been able to find funding. This is an important step. I thank the Minister of State. Last week's debate on Committee Stage of the Bill was very informative and I thank the officials for their support.

It is good to have a Minister of State who focuses his attention on small businesses. We will succeed through our small businesses and this Bill is a very important step in that direction. There is a great need to build confidence in small businesses. The Minister of State has shown a commitment to ensuring that objective is achieved. I commend him and his officials on their commitment.

I thank the Minister of State for the support he has shown to the small business environment. It is important for those who want to start businesses that credit is made available. Businesses that wish to expand also require credit. We must help the small business sector to maintain the 700,000 jobs it provides at present if it is to generate further employment. This Government is giving small businesses a foot up.

At present a business that comes up with a good idea for expansion hits a brick wall when it seeks credit from its bank. The bank manager may know the company is viable but lending policies are tied up with red tape. This Bill will give businesses an opportunity to expand, which will result in more people paying taxes and fewer on the live register. That is a win-win situation for everyone in social and economic terms.

Question put and agreed to.
Sitting suspended at 11.50 a.m. until 1 p.m.