Written Answers. - Civil Service and Programme Managers.

Michael McDowell

Question:

18 Mr. M. McDowell asked the Minister for Finance whether, in relation to a letter (details supplied) issued by him and the Minister of State, Deputy Fitzgerald, any departmental staff were involved in preparing and issuing the letter specifically inviting selected people to attend a Labour Party function at which he would give a briefing and answer questions on the provisions of the proposed Finance Bill, 1996; whether any cost to the Exchequer arose out of the issuing of this invitation through the office of An Tánaiste; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8227/96]

Mary Harney

Question:

23 Miss Harney asked the Minister for Finance his views on the need for the drafting of legislation to deal with the involvement of programme managers, and special advisers in party political fund-raising. [7669/96]

Michael McDowell

Question:

28 Mr. M. McDowell asked the Minister for Finance whether any staff of the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, were involved in preparing and issuing a letter (details supplied) inviting selected people to attend a Friends of Galway Labour fundraising event; whether any cost to the Exchequer arose out of the issuing of this invitation through the office of the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8228/96]

Mary Harney

Question:

34 Miss Harney asked the Minister for Finance if programme managers and special advisers in Government are free to engage in party political fund-raising. [7554/96]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 18, 23, 28 and 34 together.

In the case of both fundraising functions, no permanent civil servants were involved in the preparing and issuing of the letters referred to by the Deputy, and no Departmental postal facilities were used.

There is no legislation planned on the matters raised by Deputy Harney. It is considered that the Ethics in Public Office Act, 1995, deals sufficiently with the declaration of interests by the special advisers and programme managers employed by Ministers. The primary function of special advisers and programme managers is to assist in the implementation of the Government programme and to assist Ministers in the political activity of Government.

With regard to party political fund-raising, personal assistants, programme managers and special advisers in Ministers' offices, who are not established civil servants, are exempt from the rules relating to civil servants and politics, and are, therefore, free to engage in political activity. There is nothing in their contracts debarring them from involvement in political fundraising and such contracts are laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas under the Ethics in Public Office Act, 1995. The Electoral Bill at present before the House deals in a comprehensive way with the funding of political parties and will provide for the disclosure of any substantial donations to political parties and candidates.