I thank the Chairman for convening the meeting so this discussion could take place today. Senator Wilson, as the Government Whip in the Seanad, has been briefing me on the whole affair on a daily basis. Seven years ago we sat in this room and started the insurance inquiry. I can definitely state as the former Chairman, who held the position for almost five years, that we would not be in the position we are in today with regard to premiums were it not for Quinn Direct and Kevin Lunney who led the company's delegations to our committee meetings at the time, and the FBD to a smaller degree.
As we all know, at that time the second largest expenditure on the balance sheet of every employer was insurance premia. We introduced four Bills and Quinn Direct led the way. I fully support the workers. My parish is on the Ulster Border, next to Cavan, and I know the impact on the area of what Quinn has done through the years. I have known Sean and his wife for 30 years. What they have done has been a miracle. It is one of the most outstanding achievements by any human being in my lifetime, and I have been in business with my family for 45 years.
Having stated all of that, and we are where we are today, I believe there is a serious challenge facing the Government and the financial regulator, whose independence we acknowledge. I hear that 10% of the business is not performing in the greatest downturn in our lifetime by a mile — and a 90 year old friend of mine stated he never saw anything like the downturn we are experiencing at present — but with all of that going on there is bound to be 10% or 20% of the business which is not making a profit. It baffles me how it takes a month to decide that 80% of it is in a profitable position.
The correspondence before us here states that 6,000 policies a day are at risk. We are all trying to do everything we can for jobs and I congratulate the all-party 32-county effort being made under the Chairman's stewardship. However, we must be serious today. Will the Chairman adjourn this meeting to see what progress can be made? We will not go away. This is the committee charged by the Government to be responsible for enterprise, trade and employment. We have had a huge opportunity to help and we are here today as the conduit from Government. The delegates are the professionals and we are here to try to do whatever we can to ensure their business will return at speed. If this means that people must work 18 hours on a bank holiday Saturday, Sunday or Monday that is their duty; it is what they get paid for and this includes the financial regulator and everyone concerned with the management of Quinn Direct.
I propose that having heard what we heard we will do everything we can and I know the Chairman has done much. This meeting should be adjourned to note the reason 80% of the company cannot be allowed to return to their desks and places of work in this climate. We should adjourn until we get a resolution to this problem.
The DIRT inquiry under Mr. Jim Mitchell was the most successful inquiry in the history of this House. This committee's inquiry into the insurance industry reduced premia by 40%, 50% and so on. In the hotel sector I have personal experience of premia being reduced by huge amounts. This committee can stand proud of its achievements, including under the Chairman's stewardship. We can stand proud of what we have done for the insurance industry. As Irishmen and Irishwomen we can certainly state in the year of the 94th anniversary of the 1916 Rising that our friends, Quinn Direct, have played a crucial and important role in getting every policy-holder's premium reduced to what it is today.
This week, I received a quote for a premium on my family home insurance, which was an increase of 80%. Unfortunately, it is not with Quinn Direct. This is an example of what will happen if anything happens to Quinn Direct insurance. As former Chairman of this committee, I predict that it will not stop at my receipt of a premium quote increased by 80% from another insurance company this week; commercial entities will see an increase of 100% to 200% and we will return to the bad old days of a very sophisticated and difficult industry to get a handle on. We did this. There is an achievement in bringing the cost of insurance cover down to manageable levels for private and commercial motor vehicles. The cost of public liability and employers' liability insurance has also been brought down. No matter what it is, members of this committee can stand tall on the issue.