The next item on the agenda is the briefing by Department officials on head 6 of the general scheme of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2020 (Arrangements in relation to Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases).
I welcome Mr. Errol Close from the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications to the meeting. Mr. Close is appearing remotely from inside the Leinster House complex. Mr. Close, the format of the meeting is that you will be invited to make a brief opening statement and this will be followed by a question and answer session. Before we begin I draw your attention to the fact that by virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the committee. However, if they are directed by the Chairman to cease giving evidence in relation to a particular matter and they continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in respect of your evidence. Witnesses are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and they are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. I also wish to advise Mr. Close that any submission or opening statements he has made to the committee will be published on the committee's website after the meeting. Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.
On the subject of mobile phones, I remind members and witnesses to turn off their mobile phones or switch them to flight mode. Mobile phones interfere with the sound system and make it difficult for the parliamentary reporters to report the meeting. Television coverage and web streaming will also be adversely affected.
I invite Mr. Close to make his opening statement.