Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act 2013

2.

Interpretation — general.

2.— (1) In this Act—

“chairman”, in relation to a committee, includes any committee member for the time being acting as the chairman of the committee pursuant to section 21(6) ;

“civil servant” means a civil servant within the meaning of the Civil Service Regulation Act 1956;

“commission” means a commission established under the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004;

“committee” means either House sitting as a committee, a committee appointed by either House or a joint committee, and includes a sub-committee of any such committee and, in relation to relevant proceedings, means the committee conducting the proceedings;

“committee member”, in relation to a committee, means a member of the committee;

“Committee of Public Accounts” means the committee of Dáil Éireann established under the rules and standing orders of Dáil Éireann to examine and report to Dáil Éireann on the appropriation accounts and reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General;

“control”, in relation to a document, includes the ability to procure the document;

“controlled company or body” means a company or body under the control, within the meaning of section 11 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, of—

( a) a company to which paragraph (a) of the definition of “relevant body” applies,

( b) a subsidiary to which paragraph (b) of that definition applies,

( c) a body to which paragraph (c) of that definition applies, or

( d) a public service body to which paragraph (d) or (e) of the definition of “public body” applies;

“Court” means High Court;

“document” includes—

( a) a book, record or other written or printed material in any form (including in any electronic device),

( b) a map, plan or drawing,

( c) a disc, tape or other mechanical or electronic device in which data other than visual images are embodied so as to be capable, with or without the aid of some other mechanical or electronic equipment, of being reproduced from the disc, tape or other device,

( d) a film, disc, tape or other mechanical or electronic device in which visual images are embodied so as to be capable, with or without the aid of some other mechanical or electronic equipment, of being reproduced from the film, disc, tape or other device, and

( e) a copy of any thing which falls within paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (d);

“electronic device” includes any device which uses any electrical, digital, magnetic, optical, electromagnetic, biometric or photonic means, or other forms of related technology, or any combination thereof, to store or transmit data, or both store and transmit data;

“enactment” means an Act or statutory instrument or any portion of an Act or statutory instrument;

“evidence”, in relation to relevant proceedings, includes any expression, whether oral, written or otherwise, of an opinion, belief or intention given in respect of the proceedings;

“final report”, in relation to a Part 2 inquiry, means the final report under section 33(1) of the committee in respect of the matter the subject of the inquiry (and includes any evidence omitted from the printed version of the final report pursuant to section 33(4) );

“give”, in relation to a document, includes send or produce the document;

“House” means a House of the Oireachtas and, in relation to a committee (other than a House sitting as a committee), means—

( a) subject to paragraph (b), the House of the Oireachtas which appointed the committee, and

( b) if the committee is a joint committee, both Houses of the Oireachtas;

“interim report”, in relation to a Part 2 inquiry, means an interim report under section 34(1) of the committee in respect of the matter the subject of the inquiry (and includes any evidence omitted from the printed version of the interim report pursuant to section 33(4) as read with section 34(2) );

“joint committee” means—

( a) a committee appointed by both Houses in identical terms, or

( b) a committee appointed by a House joined together with another committee appointed by the other House;

“legal practitioner” means a person who is a practising barrister or practising solicitor and a reference to a solicitor includes a reference to a firm of solicitors;

“Minister” means Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform;

“Oireachtas Commission” means Houses of the Oireachtas Commission;

“other committee business” means any business, other than a Part 2 inquiry, conducted or to be conducted by a committee;

“ parliamentary legal costs adjudicator ” has the meaning assigned to it by section 42 ;

Part 2 inquiry” means a section 7 inquiry, section 8 inquiry, section 9 inquiry, section 10 inquiry, section 11 inquiry or section 16 inquiry conducted or to be conducted by a committee;

“public body” means—

( a) a Department of State,

( b) the Garda Síochána,

( c) the Permanent Defence Force within the meaning of the Defence Act 1954,

( d) a local authority within the meaning of the Local Government Act 2001,

( e) a body established by or under any enactment or charter other than the Companies Acts, or

( f) a relevant body specified by the Minister, in regulations made under subsection (8), as a relevant body which falls within this paragraph;

“publish”, in relation to a statement, utterance, allegation or document, means publish to the public or a section of the public;

“relevant body” means—

( a) a company established under the Companies Acts, a majority of the shares of which are held—

(i) by or on behalf of a Minister of the Government, or

(ii) by directors appointed by a Minister of the Government,

( b) a subsidiary, within the meaning of section 155 of the Companies Act 1963, of a company to which paragraph (a) applies,

( c) a body funded, wholly or partly, out of moneys—

(i) provided by the Oireachtas, or

(ii) from the Central Fund or the growing produce thereof,

or

( d) a controlled company or body specified by the Minister, in regulations made under subsection (9), as a controlled company or body which falls within this paragraph;

“relevant misbehaviour”, in relation to the committee conducting a Part 2 inquiry, means a finding of fact by the committee which falls within any of paragraphs (a) to (h) of section 14 ;

“relevant proceedings” means—

( a) a Part 2 inquiry, or

( b) other committee business;

“relevant report”, in relation to a Part 2 inquiry, means an interim report or the final report;

“rules and standing orders” means the rules and standing orders for the time being in force of either House relative to public business made by each House pursuant to Article 15.10 of the Constitution;

section 7 inquiry” means an inquiry referred to in section 7(1) ;

section 8 inquiry” means an inquiry referred to in section 8(1) ;

section 9 inquiry” means an inquiry referred to in section 9(1) ;

section 10 inquiry” means an inquiry referred to in section 10(1) ;

section 11 inquiry” means an inquiry referred to in section 11(1) ;

section 16 inquiry” means an investigation referred to in section 16(1)(a) ;

“termination”, in relation to a Part 2 inquiry, includes the termination of the inquiry effected by the House dissolving the committee;

“terms of reference”, in relation to a Part 2 inquiry which is not a section 16 inquiry, means the terms of reference for the inquiry set under section 13 ;

“tribunal” means a tribunal to which the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts 1921 to 2011 apply;

“witness”, in relation to relevant proceedings, includes a prospective witness.

(2) For the purposes of this Act, a document in the possession or control of a body corporate or an unincorporated body of any kind is considered, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to be also in the possession or control of any individual who, because of his or her functions or position within the body corporate or the unincorporated body, as the case may be, can reasonably be expected to have possession or control of the document.

(3) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prevent a person (including the committee) who is entitled under this Act to question a witness in the course of the proceedings of a Part 2 inquiry to so question the witness directly or through the person’s legal practitioner (if any).

(4)( a) A consent given under this Act by the House to a committee (other than a House sitting as a committee) may be given subject to such conditions and directions as are specified by the House at the time the consent is given.

( b) A consent given under this Act by a committee may be given subject to such conditions and directions as are specified by the committee at the time the consent is given.

(5) A reference in this Act to a person (howsoever described) informing a committee of a matter, or otherwise giving notice to a committee of a matter, is satisfied when the chairman of the committee is so informed or given such notice, and is so satisfied whether or not the other committee members are so informed or given such notice at the same or at another time.

(6) A reference in this Act to any matter the subject of relevant proceedings includes a reference to a person the subject of the proceedings.

(7) A reference in this Act to disclosing or publishing a document (howsoever described) includes a reference to disclosing or publishing, as the case may be, part of the document or all or part of the content of the document.

(8) The Minister may make regulations specifying that a relevant body is a relevant body which falls within paragraph (f) of the definition of “public body” in subsection (1).

(9) The Minister may make regulations specifying that a controlled company or body is a controlled company or body which falls within paragraph (d) of the definition of “relevant body” in subsection (1).

(10) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prejudice the power of each House to make rules and standing orders consistent with this Act.

(11) In so far as is practicable, rules and standing orders shall be construed in a manner consistent with this Act.