I move amendment No. 1:
In page 7, between lines 30 and 31, to insert the following:
"(2) Upon the enactment of this Bill the Minister shall have the power to make an order obliging an insurance company to reduce premiums in line with savings achieved as a result of the establishment of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board.".
Perhaps I can get agreement from the Tánaiste on the amendment. Will she agree that the Bill is essentially and principally about reducing the cost of insurance premiums? During the Seanad debate she said that the objective of the Bill was to tackle the delivery cost by way of speedier compensation for genuine claimants while reducing the cost of insurance for consumers and businesses alike. While I agree with this, unless the Bill does exactly that, it will be useless and all the drafting, amending and debating will count for nothing. The crisis will continue for business people, employers, motorists, especially young motorists, and people in the voluntary sector.
This amendment strengthens the Bill. It gives it considerable backbone and ensures that it does exactly what it says. In other words, it will reduce the cost of insurance premiums. It will also give statutory control over the cost of insurance, which is long overdue. We all agree on the excessive cost of insurance, which is obvious from the debate on all sides of the House. If the Tánaiste is serious about the issue, which I believe she is, I have no doubt she will accept the amendment.
The amendment is mild-mannered, so to speak, because it does not say the Tánaiste must make an order to oblige insurance companies but that she may make an order, or she certainly has the power to make an order, obliging insurance companies to reduce premiums. It also states that insurance companies should reduce premiums in line with savings achieved as a result of the establishment of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. As it is a reasonable amendment, it should be acceptable to the Tánaiste.
Insurance companies have shown no inclination to date to reduce insurance costs despite calls not just from leaders of industry and unions but also from the Tánaiste and a host of other political and business representatives. In the face of a lack of co-operation from the insurance industry, this strengthening of the Bill is necessary. It is essential to control the price of insurance. I would be concerned that, without the amendment, the situation will continue exactly as it is at present and there will be no improvement for the people to whom we referred during our contributions. Will the Tánaiste to accept the amendment?