Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Cork Consumer Affairs Office.

Wednesday, 28 February 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 462 No. 3

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  9.  Kathleen Lynch  Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch   asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment  Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton   the plans, if any, he has to open a Cork office of the Director of Consumer Affairs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4515/96]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise and Employment (Mr. Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I secured moneys in my Department's Estimate for 1996 to enable the Director of Consumer Affairs to open an office in Cork city.

Fitting out the proposed premises on the South Mall is due to commence shortly and the Office of Public Works has assured me it will be completed by April. Arrangements are now being made to procure the necessary staff. I, therefore, expect the office to be open to the public during the coming months.

The office will give the citizens of Cork greater access to the expanding work programme of the Director of Consumer Affairs. The expansion results mainly from the enactment of the Consumer Credit Act, 1995, which I intend to implement by 1 May.

The Consumer Credit Act reforms and consolidates existing consumer credit law. Up to 1995, legislation in this [722] area was designed to regulate particular forms of credit or, more recently, specific aspects of credit. The main legislation is: the Moneylenders Acts, 1900 and 1933; the Hire-Purchase Acts, 1946 to 1980; the Pawnbrokers Act, 1964; the Consumer Information (Consumer Credit) Order, 1987 and the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, 1980. Controls on some providers of credit are also contained in other legislation, for example, Central Bank Acts, Building Societies Act, Trustee Savings Bank Act, 1989.

The 1995 Act also addresses problems in specific areas of the credit market, such as moneylending and leasing. Furthermore, the Act will contribute towards the establishment of the EU Common Market in consumer credit.

The main functions of the Director of Consumer Affairs under the Act are, inter alia, (a) licensing of moneylenders by end July 1996; (b) authorising all credit/mortgage intermediaries; (c) producing information material for public, money advisers and others involved in this area and (d) handling applications from banks and financial institutions for new/increased bank charges.

Booklets are being prepared by the Director of Consumer Affairs for general circulation. Other measures to inform those who will benefit from specific provisions of the Act of their rights are being considered. Discussions have also taken place with the institutions supplying credit in order to allow for the better implementation of the Act.

Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  I thank the Minister for following through on his commitment. Every young adult studies consumer law and is aware of his or her rights. It will be of enormous benefit when a consumer affairs office opens in April in High Street, Cork. Will this be advertised——

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Only in the Forum magazine.

Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  ——in the local press which virtually everyone reads to [723] ensure people know where the office is located?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Any advertising——

Mr. M. Ahern: Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Has already been done.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  ——will be in both languages.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  Read the small print.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Consumer Credit Act confers various new rights on citizens but if they do not know about them the purpose of the Act will be undermined. The Director of Consumer Affairs is compiling an awareness programme and a series of leaflets on different aspects of the services provided. I did not raise the issue of advertising with him but I am sure, as night follows day, when the office is open and staffed he will advertise the fact. The Office of Public Works states the office will be completed by 1 April and will open as soon as possible after that date.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  There are three Deputies offering and time is exhausted. Brevity would assist me in facilitating them.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  I am very pleased to tell Deputy Lynch that it was I who took the decision in 1992-93 to locate offices of the Director of Consumer Affairs in Cork, Limerick and Athlone and I thank the Minister for following through with that decision. When will the Athlone office be opened?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  There is no greater ambition in politics than to follow on the slipstream of the Deputy and it is my intention to follow through on all the promises she made.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  When will the office be opened in Athlone?

[724]Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The question refers to Cork.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  Has the Minister of State heard of Athlone?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I learned a great deal about Athlone last Sunday night, and I compliment the Deputy on an excellent performance on “Lifelines”.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Minister need not worry about publicity, I am sure today's answer will get much publicity in Cork. Will the Minister agree there is need for an office of the Director of Consumer Affairs in the new town in Tallaght and has he plans to open an office there?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  The Deputy appears to be going beyond the bounds of the question.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Now that Deputy Harney mentions it, I think that is an excellent idea. I will certainly employ the resources in my office on investigating whether that is feasible.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  Deputy Harney, when in Government, will follow in the Minister's footsteps.

Mr. E. O'Keeffe: Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  I commend my colleague for laying the ground work for the office in Cork. I made representations to the Minister to have the office located in Mallow and I thought, with his allegiance to Mallow and having a great stalwart there, he would have located the office in the Blackwater Valley. Deputy Quill also made representations regarding the office in Cork. I am disappointed that office was not rural based and that such offices are being centralised again. Cork represents a very large area and many towns in the region would have been better suited for such an office.


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