I welcome the survey by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority, which is to be carried out on a three-monthly basis. Provision of this survey implements recommendation No. 7 of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board's recommendations, which are central to the Government's insurance reform programme. This survey will help engender price competition and educate the public on premium variances. The Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority, IFSRA, which came into being on 1 May 2003, has a wide regulatory remit, covering consumer protection and prudential supervision of practically all financial services, including insurance and the services provided by the insurance industry. The legislation setting up IFSRA provided for the establishment of a Director of Consumer Affairs, who has a clear role in consumer protection. There is a strong focus on transparency, competition and choice for the consumer.
While I no longer have responsibility for the regulation of insurance undertakings, I continue to have responsibility for the insurance reform programme which I launched on 25 October 2002. The reform programme is progressing well, with 32 of the 67 recommendations implemented. The pricing and underwriting of insurance is a matter for individual insurance companies and EU law prevents Governments from intervening directly in the matter. However, I have made it clear that I consider there to be an onus on the insurance industry to ensure that the reforms to be taken will have the effect of significantly reducing the cost of premiums to consumers. Reductions have already occurred in the cost of premiums and more reductions are expected.