Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Labour Bill on Banking Inquiry

The Irish Times is reporting that the Labour Party has put forth a bill to "restore the rights of parliamentary committees to hold inquiries into matters of public concern." You can download a copy of the bill here. I think that this would be welcomed by everyone interested in more transparency and accountability.

Some excerpts:
Section 3: a committee has power to inquire into, and report to either or both Houses upon, any matter for purposes –
 appropriate to the order of reference by which it was appointed and any other applicable standing or other orders, and
 appropriate to the functions of the House or Houses by which it was appointed, referred to in the recital to the Bill, including in particular the power of making laws for the State exercisable by the House or Houses that appointed it.
... a committee may inquire into and report upon matters that arose before the passing of this Bill.
Section 4 provides that a committee must not consider, and has no power to decide or report upon, findings or opinions on any individual’s civil or criminal liability or to make findings which could reasonably be seen to attribute civil or criminal liability to any individual.
Furthermore, a report of a committee is in its entirety an expression of the opinion of the committee and has the same status for every purpose in law as is given to a report of a tribunal of inquiry appointed pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts 1921 to 2004.
Section 5 makes it clear that the power of compellability of witnesses, and associated powers, conferred by previous Committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas Acts are exercisable in aid of the power to inquire and report conferred on committees by this Bill.
Section 7 allows for the appointment by a committee of investigators to carry out preliminary investigations.