There is no question of a quango. A consumer advisory group involving 33 different personalities was established by my predecessor. Many of the 33 people represent the regulators or the producers. In many other countries, the consumer lobby has grown organically in society. Unfortunately, that has not happened here.
The intention is to replicate what happened in insurance with the Motor Insurance Advisory Board but to have a smaller group. The group of individuals will be chosen for the personal qualities they bring to this agenda rather than being representative of any particular vested interest. That is what is required. The idea is to stand down the existing group and replace it with a more focused and smaller group of individuals who will examine, among other things, how to develop an effective consumer voice in Ireland, act as an expert adviser to me, and be separate from the enforcement role which is the responsibility of the Director of Consumer Affairs.
The EU has an important role to play. A number of EU draft directives are being discussed during Ireland's Presidency, one of which relates to unfair commercial practices, to help consumers do business on a Community-wide basis. That does not supplement the need for a more effective lobby for consumers. Time and again when Deputies, Ministers and others seek a consumer representative, with the exception of the Consumers Association of Ireland, it is not easy to find the appropriate person or group. It is time we put an end to that difficulty.