Legal Developments: In the public interest
The Inquiries Bill currently making its way through Parliament provides a single set of rules to govern public inquiries. But, says the Bar Council, the powers it would give the executive to restrict both funding for and public access to their proceedings is a cause for concern
The Inquiries Bill is designed to provide a single, uniform set of rules and procedure for the establishment and conduct of statutory inquiries set up by a minister in response to a matter of public concern. The Bill will replace the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921 and various provisions regarding statutory inquiries contained in other Acts of Parliament (see clauses 48 and 49 of the Bill and schedules 2 and 3). It will ensure that ad hoc inquiries, which are currently set up without any statutory backing, are put on a proper footing and given proper powers to have evidence on oath. This is important in circumstances where there has been increasing use by the executive of ad hoc inquiries.
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