Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 13 Dec 1989

Vol. 123 No. 12

Trustee Savings Banks Bill, 1989: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Before Senator Norris commences may I clarify what was agreed on the Order of Business in relation to the Trustee Savings Banks Bill? Are we concluding Second Stage today?

There was no indication.

So it may not be concluded today?

I would like to return to the point I was making at the conclusion of the discussion last week. I am quite seriously concerned at the arbitrary age limit of 70 to be imposed on trustees and I urge the Minister to reconsider this because I believe there are a number of people, particularly in the world of financial expertise, whose wisdom increases and matures with age and there are many people whose services would be valuable to an organisation like the Trustee Savings Banks well past the age of 70. Of course, people who are senile or otherwise incapable ought to be removed as a matter of course, whether they are 35 years or 75 years, but I really have to deplore this ageism which would have excluded people of the calibre of Calouste Gulbenkian, for example, as the trustee of the Trustee Savings Bank. I very much hope that this situation will be re-examined by the Minister.

The general framework in which I wish to place my remarks is that of taking on board the Minister's intention which is, as I see it, to create what he himself described as a level playing field between the different financial institutions, in particular the Trustee Savings Banks and the more orthodox banking institutions such as the Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland and so on — there is no need to name them.

I wish to tease out perhaps some technical points at which, as I see it, there is variance between this intention on the part of the Minister and the Trustee Savings Banks Bill as published. Again, I may be incorrect in this because of amendments that have been accepted or amendments the Minister intends to accept and I would be very happy to accept that explanation. For example, I would have some concern at significant changes that could be made to Acts of the Oireachtas by Cabinet ministerial regulations and ministerial orders. I feel that this kind of legislation should reflect the principle that all such amending regulations, unless restricted to clarification of certain consequential aspects of the principal legislation, require positive approval by the Dáil and the Seanad rather than the kind of negative rubber-stamping.

With regard to licensing, section 32 (1) (b) of the Central Bank Act, 1989, clearly specifies that the Central Bank must make its decision with regard to granting a licence within six months from the date of application or, where further information is sought by the Central Bank, within six months after that later date or within 12 months from the initial application, whichever period first expires. Section 10 (4) of the Trustee Savings Banks Bill, as originally drafted, should be redrafted in a manner consistent with the Central Bank Act provisions. The reason I say this is because I am taking very seriously what the Minister says with regard to the creation of a level playing field.

Once again section 12 of the Trustee Savings Banks Bill which specifies the granting of a licence by the Central Bank should be subject to such conditions, if any, as it may impose and specify the time the licence is granted. The appeals procedures set out in section 12 against those conditions are to the Central Bank itself. This does seem to me to be an anomaly, because in the parallel situation governed by the Companies Act the appeal is directed to the Minister for Finance himself, or herself as the case may be in the future. I do not see why there should be this variation. Again, I appeal to the principle of the level playing field.

In my next comment I am really seeking information. I am a little bit confused, both by the contents of the Trustee Savings Banks Bill and also by the briefing document with which I have been provided by the chartered accountants. They expressed some concern about section 13, which specifies that one of the conditions under which the Central Bank may revoke a licence is if any of the trustees of the Trustee Savings Banks are convicted on indictment of an offence under this Act or convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty.

The chartered accountants consider that this condition is unduly onerous and is at variance with the provisions applied to a director of a licensed bank under the Central Bank Act. That, as an ordinary punter to be quite honest, would make me feel a bit more concerned about the situation with regard to the Central Bank Act. I would not be very happy with somebody convicted of fraud being allowed to remain as director of a bank. It seems to be inappropriate.

I cannot agree with the parties who have briefed me that this condition is unduly onerous, although I imagine that what they mean is that a director or trustee of a savings bank may be guilty of fraud in the post office, but that this may simply still leave him with a clean slate in the Trustee Savings Banks area. I do not agree with that at all. I am quite happy with the legislation, despite my brief, as it is currently drafted. I would again direct the attention of the House to the fact that this is the Trustee Savings Banks and a cardinal root point of those words is trust. If you have a person who is convicted of fraud, then I do not see how they are capable of properly discharging the trust that is reposed in them. Instead of requesting the Minister to change this Bill, I suggest that he might look at the Central Bank Act.

In section 3 (5) it is noted that section 15 requires Central Bank consent for the fixing of interest rates, maximum liabilities and a number of other matters in relation to the Trustee Savings Bank. These requirements appear to draw on the special position of the Minister for Finance in guaranteeing the debts of Trustee Savings Banks. Such consents are not helpful in achieving the level playing field desired for all financial institutions. However, as I understand it, there is apparently no longer any undertaking or guarantee by the Minister with regard to the debts of Trustee Savings Banks as envisaged in this Bill. As I see it, he appears to be extracting himself from that situation.

With regard to trustees, I have already indicated my difficulties with regard to the question of age. I hope the Minister will take this matter on board.

As far as supervision is concerned, sections 29, 30 and 31 of the Bill empower the Central Bank to specify differing conditions for differing Trustee Savings Banks. It seems to me that we are again in the microcosm looking at another aspect of the level playing field notion. I do not think it is desirable that different conditions should apply to different Trustee Savings Banks if we are seeking a situation of parity. Perhaps the Minister would be able to clarify that for me.

With regard to section 6 — management and administration — there are some problems that are serious — they deal with the situation of auditors and accountants. Far be it from me to wish to protect the species of auditors and accountants but, at the same time, it seems there are some anomalies contained within the Bill. For example, unlike the Companies (No. 2) Bill, 1987, there are no provisions in section 36 of the Bill governing the resignation of auditors, nor does it specify that an auditor or trustee of a Trustee Savings Bank who has been removed is entitled to attend the following annual general meeting of the bank and be heard at that meeting regarding any of its business that concerns him as former auditor of the bank. That seems to me to be a violation of natural justice; because there is no question of doubt that if an auditor is removed, a certain cloud hangs over his or her name and it seems to be a reasonable part of natural justice that that person should be permitted to attend. There should be this provision within the regulations to attend the next annual general meeting and ask or answer such questions as may legitimately clear his or her name. That, to my mind, would be decent business practice and consonant with what I would describe as natural justice.

Section 36 (9) empowers the Central Bank to direct a Trustee Savings Bank not to re-appoint a named person as auditor, which direction must be complied with by the Trustee Savings Bank. It is inequitable that this section contains no provision for appeal procedures against such a direction by the Central Bank. Again, it is a question of a person's reputation. The Central Bank, an anomymous body, may direct the removal of an auditor engaged in his or her professional business with no explanation, no recourse to seek clarification and the reasons, and it could be that those reasons were specious. Anybody in business life seeking to engage the services of an auditor would hesitate to do so, on the basis that there is no smoke without fire, in the case of an audit or who had been precipitately removed without any recourse to an appeals procedure. It may be that the Minister is in the process of taking on board this kind of amendment, but it seems to me, out of simple fairness, that this must be done because we are dealing with professional reputations.

I would like to ask the Minister, if he is not prepared to accept these kind of amendments, what calibre of auditiors and accountants does he imagine the Trustee Savings Banks are going to secure. If I was an accountant, a highly unlikely proposition I can assure the House, I would be most reluctant to be engaged in a situation, where I could be fired without explanation, without recourse to an unfair dismissals tribunal. I could be excluded from all those meetings at which my character was blackened by implication. This is a very serious flaw in the Bill as at present drafted.

The Bill states that the auditor is an independent third party whose relationship with the bank consists of providing a professional service. It is, therefore, urged that section 36 (10) should be revised since the apparent implication of certain provisions therein, as at present drafted, is that the auditor could be an officer or employee of the bank. Here, again, you have the creeping powers of the Central Bank as opposed to the powers of the Minister. It seems to me to be very odd that on the one hand the Central Bank can fire someone without explanation and, on the other hand, they can institute and instal inside a Trustee Savings Bank somebody who may be one of their own employees. Where is the natural justice in that? There seems to me to be very legitimate scope for worry on this point.

I have two further points which may have some substance and I would like to refer to them before concluding. Section 38 refers to the auditor's reporting duties where he has reason to believe circumstances exist which could affect the bank's ability to fulfil and I quote "any other of its financial obligations" or inaccuracies or omissions relating to and again I quote "any returns made" to the Central Bank. Since this section is obviously based on section 43 of the Insurance Act, 1989, which was passed by this House and section 47 of the Central Bank Act, 1989, it shares their inadequacies in that it fails to specify clearly the precise circumstances in which such additional reporting responsibilities will arise. By referring to financial obligations and returns in vague general ways and terms, it would appear, which, I imagine is not the Minister's intention, that breaches of "any financial obligations or inaccuracies or omissions in any return will give rise to a reporting responsibility under section 38. This approach is not withstanding that such errors where found may well have no impact upon the bank's ability to fulfil its obligation to its depositors or creditors".

The final point, on which I may reassure the Minister I do not feel strongly — he, I am sure, will be able to detect those on which I do feel strongly, particularly the question of the accountability of the auditors and their right to have just recourse to machinery whereby they can clear their character — is one of substance in the world of accounting. Section 37 requires the auditor to make a report annually to the trustees dealing with the various matters outlined in the Bill. In the past it has been recommended by the accountancy profession that sections such as this in companies and other legislation be revised to provide for situations whereby auditors need only refer to matters in the audit report if they are intended as qualifications of that report. The accountancy profession is concerned that audit reports in the Republic of Ireland had become excessively lengthy by comparison with other member states of the European Community, that the fundamental opinion as to the true and fair view of the entity's state of affairs and results risks in being overshadowed if not misinterpreted and, accordingly, that it is in the interests of all users of financial statements that the content of the audit report be clarified by referring to matters other than a true and fair view on an exception basis only. I do not feel very strongly about that but I understand the point that is being made. In other words, as the Bill is at present phrased we may be placing our Trustee Savings Banks at a disadvantage to comparable institutions within the European Community. That is a fair point to make.

I would like to express my own worry in a few concluding remarks about what may well be the end result of this Bill. I believe, in concert with a number of the speakers who took part in the debate in the Dáil, which I read with great interest, that it is quite possible that the Trustee Savings Banks far from being protected and far from being placed on a level playing field are actually being placed on an auctioneer's slab and that the machinery contained in this Bill is principally intended to allow them to be privatised. I hope this is not the case and not the intention and I certainly hope that it is not the end result of this legislation. The Trustee Savings Banks have an honourable history as the Minister outlined in his opening remarks, thay have been valuable as a community resource, they are now quite a significant, though small, element in the banking services of this country and I for one, would hate to see them ruthlessly absorbed by a larger financial equity. It seems to me this will be absolutely, totally and completely out of character with the intention for which they were established, with the trust which the people of Ireland have placed in them. It would be absolutely morally wrong for the Minister to facilitate any such acquisition by a financial conglomerate.

I look forward very much to hearing the Minister's response, particularly dealing with questions such as interest rates charged on credit cards which I raised last week, the question of the age of 70 as being a bar which I do not believe it should be. My two final points are the question of the need for auditors and accountants to be protected against the very anomalous conditions imposed upon them by this Bill and a guarantee from the Minister that, what is being presented here is an intention to place our Trustee Savings Banks on a level playing field and not on the auctioneer's slab.

As this is the first opportunity I have had to come to this House since I was appointed Minister of State with responsibility for Science and Technology, I would like to warmly congratulate you, a Chathaoirligh on your appointment and I am glad you are all happily installed in the old Seanad. I hope this beautiful premises will inspire all of you in the future.

I would like to thank Senators for their contributions to the debate on the Second Stage of this Bill. While the Trustee Savings Banks are small in terms of the overall financial sector, they provide a very important service for the smaller depositor in particular. However they are hampered by archaic regulations which have no place in today's financial environment and changes are long overdue. In today's financial environment an institution must grow to survive and I am satisfied the present Bill is necessary to enable the Trustee Savings Banks to grow and prosper.

It is time for them to be brought onto a level playing field and to give them the opportunity to provide a wider range of financial services. In future they will be under the supervision of the Central Bank which is the proper supervisory authority for banking services. With the removal of outdated restrictions, the Trustee Savings Banks will be better equipped to grow and cope with intense competition. There are already plans in train for new branch offices. For the first time they will be able to do business with companies as well as individuals and they will have much greater flexibility in terms of use of depositors' funds. The updating of rules and structures which is being provided for in this Bill is in line with the changes already in operation or now being put in place in respect of savings bank's operations in other European countries.

The whole financial sector has been going through a period of dramatic change in recent years. New financial instruments, the increased use of technology and the implementation of European Community directives are having a very big impact and traditional lines of demarcation between the various financial institutions are fading away. Earlier this year the Oireachtas enacted legislation in respect of the Central Bank and the building societies to provide for these new realities and this Bill is doing likewise for the Trustee Savings Banks.

Senator Doyle referred to four issues outstanding between the Minister and the Central Bank as late as 1987. She concluded that as three out of the four issues were not dealt with in the Bill, they were still unresolved and accounted for the general nature of some of the sections. The four issues which Senator Doyle identified as relevant in discussions between the Department of Finance and the Central Bank were (i) liability of trustees; (ii) the determination of Trustee Savings Bank interest rates vis-á-vis the public; (iii) the percentage of depositors' funds to be lodged with the Minister and (iv) the rate of interest the Minister would pay the Trustee Savings Banks on the funds lodged with him.

Senator Doyle noted that the liability of trustees is dealt with in the legislation and concluded that the absence of reference to other issues indicated that these questions remained unresolved between the Department and the Central Bank. Discussion on these issues concerns the respective responsibility of the Minister and the Central Bank. The issues have, in fact, been resolved and the respective responsibilities are clearly set out in the Bill. Section 15 of the Bill states that Trustee Savings Bank interest rates visá-vis the public will be fixed in such a manner and by reference to such matters as the Central Bank may determine.

On a point of order, could we have copies of the Minister's speech?

I understand that is not normal on a reply.

This arrangement will allow a degree of flexibility to the Central Bank to take into account such matters as prevailing market rates and the wishes of the Trustee Savings Banks on their preferred interest rate structure and the arrangements agreed between the Central Bank and other banks under their supervision. To tie the matter down any further in legislation would only lead to the shackling of the Trustee Savings Banks. Senators will appreciate that the thrust of the present Bill is in the direction of unshackling the Trustee Savings Banks from the over-detailed and inappropriate constraints imposed by existing outmoded legislation.

The remaining two issues are dealt with in section 32. The percentage of depositors' funds to be lodged with the Minister will be determined by the Central Bank after consulting the Minister and the Minister will determine the rate of interest he pays on such funds after consulting the Central Bank. Any reduction in the proportion of depositors' funds lodged with the Minister will clearly have to take place gradually and will depend on a number of things, including the extent to which the Trustee Savings Banks can prudently expand their lending business and the rate at which their deposit business develops. In determining the rate he pays on funds lodged with him, the Minister will have regard to prevailing market rates. I believe these issues have been adequately dealt with in the legislation and that it would be inappropriate to elaborate any further in the Bill.

Senator Doyle also wanted the conditions which the Central Bank might attach to licences to be set out in the Bill. This would be entirely inappropriate and out of keeping with the practice in relation to other banks. The sections on licences in this Bill reflect similar provisions in the Central Bank Acts and this is how it should be. Among the areas which could be covered in the conditions attaching to licences are a requirement to get Central Bank approval for branch expansion, limits on lending to particular sectors, an upper limit on the amount of individual loans, the extent of a bank's exposure in any particular area, conditions on loans to trustees and so on. I stress that in all of this the Central Bank is guided by what is prudent for the institution under its supervision. It must retain discretion here and this is exercised in the interests of the prudent and orderly regulation of the banks, an aim to which I am sure we all subscribe.

Senator Doyle asked about the legal advice on the ownership of Trustee Savings Banks. The advice of the Attorney General on this question was based on a very detailed consideration of the position of the Irish Trustee Savings Banks. This advice is that the disposal of the assets of Trustee Savings Banks is at the discretion of the Oireachtas. This, of course, is subject to the rights of depositors to their deposits and any due interest thereon. One of the issues which arose in the UK was the extent of the rights of depositors and whether they had any claim to ownership of the banks. My advice is that these rights are confined to what I have already indicated.

Senators Doyle and O'Toole were anxious that any regulation that might be made under sections 5 and 6 should be by way of affirmative order and subject to prior Oireachtas approval. They drew attention to the provision for the use——

Is it in order for me to introduce a point of information?

What is the point of information?

My point of information is simply to make the Minister aware, as he may very well be, that there were in fact two conflicting legal opinions on this in Great Britain: first, the opinion of the Scottish Law Lords and, secondly, the opinion of the English courts and they were quite in conflict. Therefore, there is not a simple position that supports the stance taken by the Minister.

That is a statement rather than a point of information.

We will not have a chat about it at this stage but we referred this matter to the Attorney General and he, in turn, took into account decisions of the nature which the Senator has outlined and came to his decision. The Government and the Minister are naturally advised by the Attorney General in these matters and I have no doubt he has taken the correct course.

In legislation of this kind the usual procedure is for regulations to be made, laid before the Oireachtas and be subject to annulment within 21 days, if that is the wish of the Oireachtas. This is the procedure adopted for provisions similar to sections 5 and 6 included in the Building Societies Act and is also the procedure adopted in other precedents for section 5 which I referred to in my opening address on Second Stage of this Bill.

The Minister will be aware of the disquiet in the Dáil about this procedure in relation to those two Acts.

There can be disquiet in the Dáil over quite a number of issues. These precedents are the Social Welfare Act, 1952, the Farm Tax Act, 1985, the Canals Act, 1986 and the Valuation Act, 1988. The Building Societies Act, 1989 has a three year limit and a similar limit is appropriate in this case. Limits on the other precedents cited varied; the Social Welfare Act, one year; the Farm Tax and Valuation Acts, two years; the Canals Act, three years.

Regarding the scope of any amendments, all the precedent legislation referred to limited the scope of amendments under this section to the Act in question, except for the Canals Act which allowed for the possibility of amendment to any other enactment. In the case of the Trustee Savings Banks Bill, it is envisaged that only relatively minor changes would be made under section 5. Indeed, as I have already said, my advice is that despite the apparent breadth of its drafting, the Minister would only be entitled to use this section in an extremely limited way.

Section 6 will only allow the importation into Trustee Savings Bank legislation of changes made in company, banking and building society legislation after the coming into force of the present Trustee Savings Banks Bill. This will only be done where sections of the present Bill are modelled on provisions in these other Acts or where a totally new provision might be introduced into the other legislation which would require to be imported into Trustee Savings Bank legislation.

Section 57 is different. There is a major choice of direction provided for in this section, namely, whether, on conversion to company status, Trustee Savings Banks would become State companies owned and controlled by the Minister or whether they would become private sector companies. In contrast to what might be envisaged under sections 5 and 6, this is a matter where the Oireachtas must have the chance to register its view in advance of any action being taken.

Hear, hear.

Senators Doyle and O'Toole referred to the question of State guarantee for Trustee Savings Banks funds. The present position is that there is no formal, legal State guarantee of deposits to depositors. However, as 80 per cent of deposits are lodged with the Minister for Finance these are, in effect, guaranteed to the Trustee Savings Banks against default. The remaining 20 per cent of the resources of the banks are invested prudently and profitably and it will be the function of the Central Bank to ensure that this continues. When this legislation is put into effect the proportion of deposits lodged with the Exchequer will only be reduced to the extent that there are opportunities for prudent and profitable expansion of Trustee Savings Bank business.

Reference was also made to section 58 which says, in effect, that a Trustee Savings Bank shall not claim in any manner that its deposits are State guaranteed. This is not new. It is based on the existing section 1 of the Savings Banks Act, 1891 which states that the Trustee Savings Bank may not be designated or described in any manner which imports that the Government are responsible or liable to depositors for any money placed in the safe keeping of the bank.

Reference was made to assurances given by the Minister for Finance in 1984 when there was an exceptional level of withdrawals of deposits from the Dublin Trustee Savings Banks. In 1984 the then Minister for Finance was satisfied that the Trustee Savings Banks were entirely solvent and were in a position to repay all their depositors in full. I am happy to state that this continues to be the case today. As the proportion of Trustee Savings Banks funds invested with the State gradually reduces, the Trustee Savings Bank will be brought under the deposit protection scheme provided for in the recent Central Bank Act.

Senator O'Toole asked what precisely are we handing over to the Central Bank. Basically, we are handing over the present supervisory function which is carried out by the Minister. The Minister will, however, retain the right to determine the rate of interest he pays on Trustee Savings Banks moneys lodged with him and he will be consulted by the Central Bank on the proportion of depositors' funds to be lodged with him. At present the Minister determines this proportion but it has always been subject to review in the light of prudent opportunities open to Trustee Savings Banks. However, these opportunities have been limited to a large extent by the legislative framework under which the Trustee Savings Banks have been operating up to now. The status of the Trustee Savings Banks regarding ownership and the vesting of the property in the trustees is not changed by this legislation. However, if and when an order is made under section 57, ownership will change in one way or another. The Trustee Savings Banks would then be owned either by the Minister or by an individual or body rather than the Minister. It is because of this that section 57 provides for the affirmative order procedure.

Senator O'Toole wondered when the Minister's consent was still required for the revocation of a licence if the Minister was handing over his supervisory functions to the Central Bank. This arrangement is not peculiar to Trustee Savings Banks legislation. In the Central Bank Act a refusal by the Central Bank to grant a licence or a decision by the Central Bank to revoke a licence is subject to the consent of the Minister and the same arrangement is adopted in the present Bill.

Senator O'Toole was worried, if I understand his remarks correctly, that in the event of a conflict between the present Bill and the Companies Bill currently before the Dáil a Trustee Savings Bank which, under section 57 was set up as a company owned by the Minister, could find itself subject to a reverse takeover by a subsidiary. Under an amendment to the Companies Bill put forward by the Minister for Industry and Commerce this would not be possible. A company could acquire shares in its holding company but any such shares would be non-voting and the possibility of such a reverse takeover is, therefore, excluded.

Senator O'Toole wonders why it is necessary to have a provision to enable the Trustee Savings Banks to operate abroad. It is true that under the second EC banking directive a licensed bank will be able to operate throughout the European Community on the basis of its domestic licence and supervision. This directive will only come into operation in 1993. Also, it only covers the European Community. The provision in the current Bill is designed to ensure that Central Bank approval is sought for any overseas operations and also that the legislation is not interpreted in a way that might imply that Trustee Savings Banks are precluded by law for from operating abroad.

Senator O'Toole also asked where the requirement for a three-fifths majority for an amalgamation resolution came from. The existing legislation requires a three-quarters majority and this Bill has reduced this in a way of facilitating amalgamation. Given, however, that amalgamation is a major structural change for a Trustee Savings Bank, it seemed reasonable to retain something more than a simple majority requirement, hence the three-fifths. The pressures for amalgamation of the two existing banks into one unit may well increase as competition intensifies and there are advantages to be gained in a pooling of resources. There are no proposals at present to amalgamate the two existing banks and while they share some facilities and maintain close contacts they are entirely separate and independent organisations. I do not think it would be desirable, as Senator O'Toole seemed to imply, that I should legislate to force such an amalgamation through, though I have stated I would not stand in the way if both banks were satisfied that this was in their best interests.

Senator Upton wondered what the responsibilities of the trustees were and how they were to be appointed. The property of the bank is vested in the trustees and they are responsible for running the bank in conformity with legislation. On the question of appointment we should remember that we are adapting an existing institution here rather than setting out from scratch. The method of appointment will remain broadly as before, namely that existing trustees coopt new trustees and this will have to be spelled out in the rules to be drawn up under the new Bill. There will, however, be some differences in the existing legislation. New trustees will now be subject to Central Bank approval and there will be a limit on the number of trustees and the maximum age. This matter has also been raised here this afternoon and it is only fair to say that a reasonable balance has been struck on the maximum age.

At present there is no legal limit on the number of trustees but given the new expanded role for the banks under the legislation they will be best served by a smaller team of trustees. Given such a limit on numbers, an age limit would also be appropriate to ensure that there was a reasonable turnover of trustees over time.

Senator Doyle raised the question of whether these limits would be phased in. It is the intention to bring all sections of the Bill into operation at the same time but section 2 allows the Minister discretion in this.

Senator Ryan wants more competition in the Irish banking sector. I would hope that the freeing up of the Trustee Savings Banks under this legislation would introduce such competition. Regarding the question of privatisation, section 57 allows for the conversion of the Trustee Savings Banks into companies owned by the Minister, that are considered desirable by the Minister and subject to prior approval by the Oireachtas. The same approval would also be required for any conversion to private sector companies and there would be provision for the State to claw back appropriate sums if this arose.

Senator Norris objects to different conditions applying to different Trustee Savings Banks. This would, hopefully, apply for a transitional period and would depend on the relative strengths and so on of the individual Trustee Savings Banks. There is nothing to stop the Central Bank differentiating conditions in relation to licensing for licensed banks. Senator Norris also quoted the submission of the accountancy body protesting that the revocation of a licence could follow the conviction of a trustee for fraud. The point has been taken on board in a ministerial amendment in the Dáil. Revocation now only follows fraud by the bank itself and not by any individual trustee.

Question put.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 26; Níl, 18.

  • Bennett, Olga.
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Dardis, John.
  • Fallon, Sean.
  • Farrell, Willie.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Foley, Denis.
  • Honan, Tras.
  • Hussey, Thomas.
  • Keogh, Helen.
  • Kiely, Rory.
  • Lanigan, Michael.
  • Lydon, Don.
  • McCarthy, Seán.
  • McGowan, Paddy.
  • McKenna, Tony.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • Mullooly, Brian.
  • O'Brien, Francis.
  • O'Keeffe, Batt.
  • Ormonde, Donal.
  • Ross, Shane P. N.
  • Ryan, Eoin David.
  • Wright, G.V.


  • Costello, Joe.
  • Doyle, Avril.
  • Harte, John.
  • Howard, Michael.
  • Jackman, Mary.
  • McDonald, Charlie.
  • McMahon, Larry.
  • Manning, Maurice.
  • Naughten, Liam.
  • Neville, Daniel.
  • Norris, David.
  • Ó Foighil, Pól.
  • O'Toole, Joe.
  • Raftery, Tom.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, John.
  • Staunton, Myles.
  • Upton, Pat.
Tellers: Tá, Senators McGowan and Farrell; Níl, Senators Howard and Jackman.
Question declared carried.
Agreed to take Committee Stage today.