How can we make public inquiries less expensive?

18 November 2013


Two senior lawyers, and a senior civil servant from the Ministry of Justice, are to give evidence to the House of Lords Committee on the Inquiries Act 2005, on Wednesday 20 November

The Committee is investigating how well the Act ensures that public inquiries are carried out as effectively and thoroughly as possible. It is also looking at the huge expense involved in some public inquiries – e.g. the Bloody Sunday inquiry which lasted 12 years and cost £191.5million, and three other Northern Irish inquiries which together cost over £100million.

Ashley Underwood QC, solicitor Judi Kemish and Michael Collins from the Ministry of Justice will all give evidence to the Committee, and will be questioned on ways that public inquiries can reduce their costs, and lessons that other inquiries can learn.

Other questions that the witnesses will face include:

  • Is it true that that a non-statutory inquiry will be cheaper than a statutory inquiry on the same topic?
  • To what extent are IT systems unique to each inquiry or can they be modified from one inquiry to another to reduce costs?
  • What are your views on an Independent Inquiries Management Office, or similar, to stop new ones from re-inventing the wheel each time?
  • Has the Act succeeded in securing confidence in inquiries from those closely involved – the core participants – and from the wider public generally?

The evidence sessions will start at 10.40 am on Wednesday 20 November in Committee Room 4 of the House of Lords.

The session will be webcast at www.parliamentlive.tv and is also open to the public. Journalists wishing to attend should go to Parliament’s Cromwell Green Entrance and should allow time for security screening.

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