Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform: Select Sub-Committee on Public Expenditure and Reform

Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013: Committee Stage

7:25 pm

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Independent) | Oireachtas source

I move amendment No. 29:

In page 57, before section 65, to insert the following new section:65.—(1) A committee may authorise such and so many persons as it may determine (referred to in this Act as “inquiry officers”) to perform the functions conferred on inquiry officers by this section.
(2) Whenever so requested by a committee, an inquiry officer shall, for the purpose of assisting it in the performance of its functions, carry out a preliminary inquiry into a Part 2 inquiry by requesting a person whose evidence would or might, in the opinion of the officer, be relevant to the inquiry, at the option of the person, to—
(a) provide him or her with a statement in writing of the evidence that the person would give to the committee in relation to the matter at a Part 2 inquiry, or
(b) make a statement of the evidence aforesaid at a meeting with him or her which the officer shall write down,
within such reasonable period as may be specified by the officer.
(3) Following an inquiry pursuant to subsection (2), the inquiry officer concerned shall prepare a report in writing of the results of the inquiry and shall furnish the report and the statement or statements under subsection (2) and any relevant documents to the committee.
(4) An inquiry officer may request the production by a person of any document in the possession or control of the person that the officer considers relevant to his or her inquiry.
(5) Where a document is produced by a person to an inquiry officer pursuant to a request under subsection (5), the officer may, with the consent of the person, retain the document in his or her possession for a reasonable period for the purpose of examining and copying it.
(6) A person being interviewed pursuant to subsection (2) may decline to answer any question asked, or refuse a request to produce a document made, by the inquiry officer concerned and may terminate the interview at any time and a person to whom a request is made under subsection (2) or (4) may refuse to comply with the request.
(7) An inquiry officer shall be furnished with the authorisation under subsection (1) relating to him or her and, when exercising a power under this section, shall, if so requested by a person affected, produce the authorisation or a copy of it to the person.”.
This amendment is also in the name of Deputy Pringle. It is the second of two tabled by him. Unfortunately, he cannot be here. The Deputy is trying to ensure that committees of inquiry can appoint investigators to assist in the gathering of evidence. In going through the Bill, he could not find anything that would allow them to do that. He has said the amendment is lifted from the Standards in Public Office Act 2001. He has modelled it on that Act's wording. He is chairman of the Members' interests committee. They cannot appoint investigators. The Deputy believes this is hindering that committee in investigating complaints.


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