Questions To The Taoiseach
The Taoiseach indicated he is open to extending the powers of the Dail Committee of Public Accounts.
Mr Ahern said that the Compellability of Witnesses Act giving the committee power to seek evidence specifically excluded tax issues. Because of this, he expected that the committee would run into difficulties.
"The Government will help the committee in its work in any way possible."
The Taoiseach was responding to the Labour leader, Mr Ruairi Quinn, who referred to his party's motion on the order paper calling on the committee to examine a report to the Dail on the circumstances surrounding the payment of approximately £14 million by the AIB to the Revenue Commissioners in settlement of outstanding liabilities for DIRT. Proposals for the reform of local government will be introduced in the Dail early next year, the Taoiseach said.
Mr Ahern said that the Local Government Bill was an extensive piece of legislation, with 150 sections.
The Department of the Taoiseach has received 50 requests under the Freedom of Information Act since April, the Dail was told.
The Taoiseach said that 10 of these had been granted and 10 partially granted, seven were ongoing and four were transferred to other departments. Where requests had been partially granted, certain information was withheld as it was exempt under various relevant sections of the Act.