A Fianna Fáil Bill, published last December, empowering the Financial Services Ombudsman to publish the complaints record of financial service providers will be debated in the Dáil during private members’ time tonight and tomorrow night, according to the party’s Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath.
Deputy McGrath stated, “It has long been the stated position of the Financial Services Ombudsman that the public interest would be best served by publishing the complaints record of individual financial service providers. I support him fully in this.
“However, the existing legislation does not permit such information to be published. The Bill I will move in the Dáil tonight addresses this deficit and provides for full transparency. The Bill would allow the Ombudsman to publish complaints details concerning banks, insurance companies, stockbrokers, mortgage brokers, hire purchase providers, health insurance companies and others.
“I believe that ‘naming and shaming’ errant financial services providers would help to weed out remaining bad practices in the financial services industry. It would also provide consumers with access with important information about providers when making decisions.
“In recent years, the Ombudsman has uncovered a litany of cases where basic consumer rights have been breached. We have had cases of people’s life savings being jeopardised through the mis-selling of investment products, of fixed rate mortgage holders being misled about the implications of moving to a variable rate and of insurance companies wrongfully seeking to withhold pay-outs to customers. As recently as this morning, we have reports that thousands of customers were wrongly sold payment protection insurance that they could never benefit from. The Ombudsman should be able to fully highlight the culprits in all cases of such consumer abuse.
“I would call on the Government to put aside politics-as-usual and support this sensible proposal. Transparency and improved customer accountability are not party political issues – if the Government is serious about welcoming constructive opposition, they will take forward and enact this straightforward piece of legislation without delay. I look forward to a constructive debate on the Bill.”