European Communities (Life Assurance Accounts, Statements and Valuations) Regulations, 1986 [S.I. No. 437 of 1986]
An Roinn Tionscail agus Trachtala.
I am directed by Mrs. Gemma Hussey, TD, Chairperson of the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities to refer to the European Communities (Life Assurance Accounts, Statements and Valuations) Regulations, 1986 [S.I. No. 437 of 1986].
The Joint Committee questions whether a power such as the Minister has assumed in Article 4 of the Regulations should ever originate in subordinate legislation when the parent statute does not expressly sanction it. I am therefore to enquire how this provision can be justified in the interest of giving Council Directive 79/267/EEC full effect.
As to the instrument in general the Joint Committee has to consider whether the Houses of the Oireachtas ought to have been given the opportunity of considering its elaborate provisions before enactment. It is not, for example, immediately apparent that the provisions of Council Directive 79/267/EEC require particular forms of accounts to be kept by life assurance companies so as to confer power on the Minister to prescribe them by statutory instrument. Accordingly I am to enquire whether any consideration was given to embodying the provisions of the instrument in a Bill - say the Insurance Bill, 1987 currently before the Seanad - and if so on what grounds the option was rejected.
a/s Cleireach an Roghachoiste.
3 Meitheamh. 1988.
(Reminder issued on 26 July 1988).
Ms. P.A. Ryan,
Joint Committee on the Secondary
Legislation of the European Communities,
I refer to your minute of 26 July, 1988 regarding the European Communities (Life Assurance Accounts, Statements and Valuations) Regulations, 1986 (S.I. No. 437 of 1986).
These Regulations were necessary to enable the Minister for Industry and Commerce to fully implement the requirements of the EEC Life Assurance Directive of 1979 (79/267/EEC). The principal requirements of this Directive were implemented by the European Communities (Life Assurance) Regulations, 1984 (S.I. No. 57 of 1984) and the Joint Committee was advised by minute of 31 August, 1984 of the Department’s intention to make further Regulations, as envisaged by Articles 15 and 29 of the 1984 instrument, under the European Communities Act, 1972. Given the extreme urgency attaching to the full implementation of Directive 79/267/EEC and given that the provisions in the 1986 instrument followed on from those already implemented by Regulation in 1984 it was considered more appropriate to implement the 1986 provisions by Regulation rather than by inclusion in the Insurance Bill, 1987.
The Joint Committee will be aware, however, that Part II of the Insurance Bill is being availed of to consolidate and extend the Minister’s supervisory powers and that this has and will provide an opportunity for the Houses of the Oireachtas to consider the Minister’s functions in this area.
With regard to the powers of the Minister to specify the particular forms of account to be kept by a life assurance company it should be noted that Section 88 of the Insurance Act, 1936 empowers the Minister to direct companies as to the form and manner of such statistics and returns as he may require them to furnish to him. Article 23 of the Directive (79/267/EEC) places a requirement on Member States to obtain from all life assurance undertakings, annual accounts, returns and statistical documents which are necessary for the purposes of supervision. These statutory provisions were considered sufficient to enable the Minister to specify the particular format of the returns by means of a Statutory Instrument.
The Joint Committee has expressed concern regarding the power assumed by the Minister under Article 4 of the 1986 Regulations. I would point out that the intention of this provision was to provide a degree of flexibility to allow, for example, for a situation where a particular undertaking might not be in a position to comply fully with the Regulations on the commencement date or where, given the extent of the information which must be provided under the Regulations, there might be justification for exempting a particular undertaking from a particular requirement for a specified time. The drafting of the Article was specifically designed to afford such limited flexibility to the Minister but not to permit the total exclusion of a particular undertaking from the requirements of the 1986 Regulations. Nor is there any provision in the 1984 Regulations, the primary Regulations implementing Directive 79/267/EEC, empowering the Minister to exempt or exclude life assurance undertakings from the requirements of those Regulations. Accordingly, Article 4 of S.I. No. 437 of 1986 is not regarded as being in any way in conflict with the full implementation of Directive 79/267/EEC.
18 October, 1988.