Apologies have been received from Deputies Carroll MacNeill, MacSharry and Carthy. Deputy Verona Murphy is speaking in the Dáil but will join us later. I welcome everybody to the meeting. Due to the situation with Covid-19, only the clerk, support staff and I are in the committee room. Members of the committee are attending remotely from within the precincts of Leinster House. This is due to the constitutional requirement that, to participate in public meetings, members must be physically present within the confines of the place where the Parliament has chosen to sit, either Leinster House or the Convention Centre Dublin. I ask members to confirm their location before contributing to ensure we are adhering to that constitutional requirement. The Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr. Seamus McCarthy, is a permanent witness and is attending remotely.
Today, we will engage with officials from the Tax Appeals Commission to examine the 2019 appropriation accounts for Vote 10 - Tax Appeals Commission, and the Comptroller and Auditor General's report on the accounts of the public services 2019, Chapter 14 - Management of Tax Appeals. The commission has been advised that the committee has an interest in the highest value appeals before the commission. We are joined remotely from within the precincts of Leinster House by the following representatives from the Tax Appeals Commission: Ms Marie-Claire Maney, chairperson, and Mr. Paddy O'Keeffe, access officer. They are both very welcome. When we begin to engage, I ask members and witnesses to mute their devices when not contributing so that we do not pick up any background noise or feedback. As usual, I remind all in attendance to ensure their mobile phones are on silent mode or switched off.
Before we start, I wish to explain some limitations to parliamentary privilege, and the practice of the Houses as regards references witnesses may make to other persons in their evidence. As the witnesses are within the precincts of Leinster House, they are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the presentations they make to the committee. This means that witnesses have an absolute defence against any defamation action for anything they may say at the meeting. However, the witnesses are expected not to abuse this privilege and it is my duty as Chair to ensure that this privilege is not abused. Therefore, if statements are potentially defamatory in relation to an identifiable person or entity, witnesses will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative that they comply with any such direction.
Members are reminded of the provisions within Standing Order 218 that the committee shall refrain from enquiring into the merits of a policy or policies of the Government, or a Minister of the Government, or the merits of the objectives of such policies. Members are also reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.
To assist our broadcasting service and the Debates Office, I ask that members direct their questions to a specific witness. If the question has not been directed to a specific witness, I ask each witness to state his or her name the first time that he or she contributes.
I call the Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr. Seamus McCarthy, to give his opening statement.