I had almost reached my concluding words the last day. I simply want to say that instead of a positive and forward looking Bill, which could have created an alternative banking system in a country that is suffering agonies under the pain of a duopoly that has no sense of the real competitive nature of banking, we have been stuck instead with a banking system which is antiquated, anti-consumer, anti-employee, anti-risk, anti-competition. The proposals in relation to the Trustee Savings Banks, which were an independent body, which will facilitate privatisation are nothing more than a shameful capitulation to the interests of big banking in this country.
What we are doing in the Bill is to mimic the appalling monstrosities of two gargantuan financial institutions, the AIB and Bank of Ireland, who have, as the Small Firms Association demonstrated in their own reports, and as I adverted to on the last occasion, crucified small business with the highest real interest rates in Europe and with the lowest definition of long-term lending. This lending is so low as to be risible by the standards of western Europe, there is an inability to take risks, requiring from small businesses collateral equal to four times the loan, there is an inability to assess a real business proposition.
All of the things I referred to on the last occasion could have been dealt with by encouraging an independent banking sector with a different view, with a different kind of shareholder, with a different role in the market-place. Instead, we have rolling privatisation, one step at a time, by ministerial fiat. We will not even have legislation to do it. I find it quite extraordinary that we should have stuck into a Bill that had so many good objectives a provision for privatisation. The whole thing is, in the worst sense of the word, sinister, anti-democratic, anti-parliamentary and it serves no good purpose in terms of legislation. That is why an otherwise good Bill does not deserve the support of this House.