Dáil Éireann - Volume 463 - 26 March, 1996

Written Answers. - Joint Committee on State-sponsored Bodies.

73. Mr. D. Ahern asked the Minister for Finance when he intends to implement paragraph 23 of the Programme, A Government of Renewal, regarding the extension of the terms of reference of the Committee on State-sponsored Bodies in order to enable it to examine matters of alleged unethical behaviour in the semi-State sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6139/96]

Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): The Deputy will be aware that the Ethics in Public Office Act, 1995, provides for, inter alia, the making of annual written statements by senior civil and public servants of relevant personal interests which could materially influence them in performing their official duties. In addition, the Act requires the making of an ad-hoc statement where a direct conflict of interest may arise, and prohibits the individual from performing the function in such circumstances, unless there are compelling reasons for doing so.

The Act establishes a Public Offices Commission which will provide advice and guidelines on compliance, and will investigate possible contraventions. As things stand, all civil servants at Principal Officer level or equivalent and [587] upwards, and other officers in commercially sensitive positions, have been required to make their first annual written statements and must now comply with the legal requirements regarding proximate conflicts of interests. Arrangements to impose similar requirements on comparable positions in the wider public service are currently being made. Arising from the Act, effective procedures and mechanisms are being put in place across public bodies so as to ensure that the highest standards apply.

This comprehensive legislative framework satisfies the intention of the statement in paragraph 23 of the programme, A Government of Renewal, and supersedes the need to extend the remit of the committee on State-sponsored bodies for the specific purpose of examining allegedly unethical behaviour. In addition, the statutory provisions in the companies Acts are also [588] applicable to certain State-sponsored bodies.