I thank the Acting Cathaoirleach and I am pleased to be here to discuss a number of Dáil amendments, most of them technical in nature. I note that the Acting Cathaoirleach has, for the purposes of this debate, divided the amendments into three groups: amendment No. 1 on its own; amendments Nos. 2 and 3 together; and amendments Nos. 4 to 10, inclusive, together. I take it that is agreed.
I hereby introduce Dáil amendment No. 1 and refer the Seanadóirí to section 51(j) on page 9 of the Bill as passed by Dáil Éireann. This provides that a court may only make a periodic payments order where it is satisfied that the continuity of payments under the PPO is reasonably secure. Subsection (2) sets out the matters which the court shall have regard to when considering whether the continuity of payments is reasonably secure.
I tabled this amendment following a request from the Motor Insurers' Bureau of Ireland. The bureau noted that when similar legislation was introduced in the UK some years ago, its equivalent organisation, the Motor Insurers Bureau, was not specifically designated as being "reasonably secure". This, unfortunately, led to a situation where the Motor Insurers Bureau, UK, had to provide evidence to the court in each case where a periodic payments order was proposed for an MIB claimant to establish that payments made by the MIB under a PPO would be "reasonably secure". This situation gave rise to increased legal costs for the MIB, which were, as is of course always the case, passed on to motor insurance consumers.
It also had the effect of delaying the introduction of PPOs for claimants under the MIB scheme. Following discussions with other stakeholders, including the State Claims Agency, the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, and the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I am satisfied that to avoid the issues that arose in the United Kingdom, we should make an amendment to this Bill that will clarify that payments eligible to be paid by the Motor Insurers' Bureau of Ireland are regarded and defined as reasonably secure for the purposes of the making of the order.
On grouped amendments Nos. 2 and 3, amendment No. 2, concerning indexation and the periodic payments, states: "In page 11, line 13, "may" deleted and "shall" substituted." The effect of amendment No. 2 would be to make it mandatory for subsequent reviews of the index applying to periodic payments orders to be carried out five years after the previous review. This amendment was proposed by Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace. I can see the merits of the amendment and I agree that a mandatory review provision would, in the circumstances, be advantageous and beneficial.
With regard to amendment No. 3, the new section 51L deals with the issue of indexation of payments. The section provides for the annual adjustment of a payment under a periodic payments order in line with the prevailing rate under the harmonised index of consumer prices, HICP, and provides for a review of the application of that index after a five-year period. Section 51L(4) provides for the making of regulations where a review of the prevailing index has concluded that an index other than the HICP would be more appropriate for use in catastrophic injury cases. This amendment, which was also proposed by Deputies Daly and Wallace in the Dáil, would make it mandatory for the Minister to make such regulations. Again. I can see merit in the proposal. It makes sense to me that if an alternative index were considered more suitable for use in periodic payments orders, the Minister should be required to make the necessary regulations, subject, of course, to the consent of the Minister for Finance.
Group 3 comprises amendments Nos. 4 to 10, inclusive. Amendment No. 4 is a technical drafting amendment. Part 4 concerns open disclosure. Amendments Nos. 4 to 10, inclusive, are technical amendments to sections 16, 17 and 19 to include commas in some places, merely for consistency. Amendment No. 5 is merely a technical drafting amendment, whose purpose is self-explanatory. Amendment No. 6 is a technical drafting amendment on page 32 and it concerns section 17. Amendment No. 7 is similarly technical, as are amendments Nos. 8 to 10, inclusive.