Written Answers. - Ethics in Public Office Act, 1995.

Desmond J. O'Malley

Question:

27 Mr. O'Malley asked the Minister for Finance if he has satisfied himself that the Ethics in Public Office Act, 1995, is a sufficient statutory framework for vindicating a good standard in public office. [5746/96]

I regard the Act as a key statutory mechanism for delivering the highest standards of integrity and accountability in public office.

The Deputy should also be aware of the range of related legislative measures being pursued by the Government. These measures include the Electoral Bill (1994), the Compellability, Privilege and Immunities of Witnesses Bill (which are currently before the Houses of the Oireachtas), the Freedom of Information Bill, which will be published in a few months' time, and the reform of the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924, which will clarify the respective roles and areas of responsibility of Minister and Departmental Secretaries, and which is being directed by the Advisory Group on Public Service Reform Legislation.

When enacted, these measures will constitute a comprehensive legislative framework within which matters such as: the funding of political parties; greatly enhanced powers for Oireachtas committees and improved accountability in decision making, will be dealt with. This Government has gone further than any of its predecessors in seeking to ensure that appropriate measures are in place so as to deliver the highest standards in public office. The Ethics in Public Office Act, in conjunction with the comprehensive range of legislative initiatives outlined above will develop and enhance public confidence in our political and administrative systems, which is a prerequisite for a healthy and vibrant democracy. If the Deputy has reasonable proposals which would further enhance these legislative measures I would be happy to consider them on their merits.