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

5:45 pm

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

Yes, although the Opposition does not control a committee. We are not suggesting that the Opposition gets more representation; I support Deputy Fleming's suggestion of parity. The public would have more faith in a committee balanced at 50:50 only because they would know that the Whip cannot be imposed. The Whip has been imposed by this and the last Government. I imagine people being called to give evidence to the committee, particularly if they are political opponents of a Government. I am talking in this case about potential future Governments.

The question is whether the process is open to abuse and under current legislation, it is open to abuse. A mischievous Government controlling the House could have the House determine that there should be an inquiry controlled by the Government. The Taoiseach could make the decision and the Whip would be imposed. The House would determine terms of reference and the type of inquiry, and that would again be controlled by the Cabinet. The committee would do the work and it could make findings that would impugn a person's good name. That committee could be controlled, under current legislation, by the Cabinet. The entire process can be controlled by a Government, and people will not have faith in it. It is open to abuse, and one safeguard would be a 50:50 rule.


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