With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 14, 21, 27, 33 and 53 together.
The Committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Compellability, Privilege and Immunities of Witnesses) Bill, 1995 has passed Second Stage in this House and will be dealt with in Committee shortly.
That Bill provides that all appointees to high office in the State other than the President, members of the Judiciary and the Director of Public Prosecutions may be compelled to attend and give evidence before committees of the House. Special provision is made in this regard for the Attorney General who would under its terms be compellable by the Committee of Public Accounts. The Taoiseach and I have already indicated to this House that an amendment introducing compellability in respect of the Director of Public Prosecutions will be tabled at Committee Stage.
Pending the enactment of that legislation, which has been drafted,inter alia, to provide the degree of privilege necessary to enable witnesses to give the fullest information on contentious matters, the present situation in regard to the attendance of witnesses before Oireachtas Committees will continue.
As regards the terms of reference of the Joint Committee on State-sponsored bodies, the Government Chief Whip is currently formulating proposals for Oireachtas reform which include consideration of the commitment in the Government's programme.