The Law Reform Commission recently published its final report on public inquiries, including tribunals of inquiry. The report contains almost 60 recommendations about tribunals of inquiry and a draft tribunals of inquiry Bill. The report is being examined in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform as a matter of urgency. I intend to bring proposals to the Government in the near future seeking approval for the preparation of a comprehensive Bill that will consolidate and reform current tribunals legislation. The proposed legislation will utilise the framework provided by the report of the Law Reform Commission and will, to the greatest extent possible, incorporate the report's recommendations. It will also include the reforms to give effect to the Government decision to try to reduce the legal costs payable by the State arising from tribunals.
I have been informed by the Department of Finance, that the costs of the tribunals and inquiries which have commenced since 1995 amount to €179.621 million, as at the end of April 2005. The cost of the tribunal on the beef processing industry, which commenced before 1995, was €26.380 million. Much of the latter costs would have been paid during the period in question, but some element would have arisen before 1995.