Dáil Éireann - Volume 567 - 28 May, 2003
Written Answers. - Legal Advice.
Mr. M. Higgins Mr. M. Higgins
94. Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the recent comments made by the outgoing Ombudsman, Mr. Kevin Murphy, that many Deputies could not properly fulfil their role as legislators unless they had the benefit of expert legal advice; if he intends to provide the resources to ensure that such legal advice can be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14637/03]
Mr. McCreevy Mr. McCreevy
Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy): If the Deputy is referring to a speech made by the outgoing Ombudsman at UCD last month, I am aware of the circulated text of it. This circulated text did not refer specifically to legal advice and the question, as posed, may in fact misrepresent the Ombudsman's speech. The following is the relevant extract from the statement:
I got a very strong feeling during my appearance before the committee that with one or two exceptions, even Deputies and Senators from the parties in Government began to recognise that they cannot properly fulfil their role as legislators unless they have some degree of independent and objective advice on particularly complex or technical Bills. Even if it were desirable, and I am not convinced that it is, it is unrealistic to expect that the two Houses will ever enjoy sufficient resources to “mark” the Government, so to speak. But it may be worth examining the possibility of some mechanism whereby Oireachtas committees would have available to them panels of unpaid experts whose experience and expertise would assist the Oireachtas in exercising what the Constitution refers to as “the sole and exclusive power of making laws for the state.
The above aside, the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas has for some years had its own legal officer to whom legal questions relating to the responsibilities of committees or Members may be referred. I am also aware that the Houses of the Oireachtas has supplemented this from time to time by recourse to outside practitioners. Furthermore, all committees and sub-committees of inquiry formed by resolution of the Dáil have had made available to them significant legal and other expert advice.
Dáil Éireann 567 Written Answers. Legal Advice.