Written Answers. - State-Sponsored Bodies.

Dermot Ahern

Question:

14 Mr. D. Ahern asked the Minister for Finance when the Government will propose the expansion of the terms of reference of the Committee on State-sponsored Bodies as promised in the programme A Government of Renewal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16953/95]

Seamus Brennan

Question:

21 Mr. S. Brennan asked the Minister for Finance when paragraph 23 of the programme A Government of Renewal regarding the widening of the remit of the Committee on State-sponsored Bodies to permit it to investigate unethical behaviour by a particular company or by any of its board members or employees will be implemented. [15929/95]

Seamus Brennan

Question:

27 Mr. S. Brennan asked the Minister for Finance the plans, if any, he has to instruct all relevant officials to comply with any requests to attend before the Joint Committee on Commercial State-sponsored Bodies further to the introduction of the Committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Compellability, Privileges and Immunities of Witnesses) Bill, 1995. [15877/95]

Dermot Ahern

Question:

33 Mr. D. Ahern asked the Minister for Finance when it is intended to implement paragraph 23 of the programme A Government of Renewal regarding the extension of the Terms of Reference of the Committee on State-sponsored Bodies in order to enable it to examine matters of alleged unethical behaviour in the semi-State sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17344/95]

Noel Dempsey

Question:

53 Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Finance if the Government intends to honour the commitment contained on page 15 of A Programme for Renewal to ensure that all appointees to high office in this State attend at the relevant Dáil Committees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15960/95]

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.