The statutory functions of the Taoiseach in relation to the Law Reform Commission, as set out in the Law Reform Commission Act, 1975, could be described, in general terms, as providing for the Taoiseach to be the conduit for the submission to the Government of matters relevant to the Commission, such as membership, annual reports and work programmes. There are no specific responsibilities on the Taoiseach in reform of the law. The Taoiseach also has certain statutory functions in staffing matters.
It would not be appropriate to transfer these functions to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and such a transfer would not in any event have the effect envisaged by the Deputy. The Law Reform Commission is an independent research body whose statutory function is to keep the law under review and to formulate proposals for law reform. The Government is not and has not ever been bound to act on proposals of the Commission. That is not to say that the reports of the Commission are ignored.
Examination by the Commission of aspects of law can provide a very useful backdrop for consideration by administrators and legislators. An examination of the Commission's annual reports will show that many recommendations of the Commission have been legislated for in recent years.
Recommendations from the Commission's Report on the Confiscation of the Proceeds of Crime contributed to three Acts passed in 1996, namely the Proceeds of Crime Act, the Criminal Assets Bureau Act and the Disclosure of Certain Information for Taxation and Other Purposes Act. In 1997 the Bail Act and the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act reflected the work of the Commission, as do Bills at an early stage of preparation on nullity, fraud offences, indexation of fines and civil evidence.