AN investigation will be carried out on the powers of Tynwald committees to demand oral and written evidence.
It comes after another Tynwald committee, the Economic Policy Review Committee, highlighted what it saw as a ‘potential serious problem’.
At last week’s sitting, the committee’s chairman, Ramsey MHK Leonard Singer, explained that under current rules witnesses could use legal professional privilege – the right of a client to confidentiality of legal advice provided by their lawyer – to refuse to disclose documents.
It came to light when the Attorney General’s Chambers refused to provide information requested by the Economic Policy Review Committee during its investigation into the Space industry until the Communications Commission waived any rights to legal professional privilege.
Mr Singer said the effect of the Tynwald Proceedings Act 1984 was unintended, and there was evidence the Bill had been passed in ‘haste’.
Mr Singer said: ‘I am concerned in a future case any witness with something to hide may seek to use legal professional privilege to deny Tynwald and its committees information we are entitled to.’
Speaker of the House of Keys Steve Rodan MHK said: ‘We cannot do our job as a select committee unless we are able to assess legal advice and opinion on which the legal interpretation of the law is made.’
An amendment by Douglas South MHK Kate Beecroft (LibVan) for the Standing Orders Committee to also examine the power of Tynwald and its committees to ‘punish for contempts arising from untruthful evidence’ was approved.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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