Inquiry into Inquiries: Dr Karl Mackie gives evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee

Today CEDR’s Chief Executive Dr Karl Mackie CBE gave evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Inquiries Act 2005. He appeared with the Rt Hon. Peter Riddell CBE, Director, Institute for Government and is the fifth person to give evidence to the Select Committee.

The session lasted for just over 2 hours, and Dr Mackie and Mr Riddell answered questions posed by the panel of ten members of the Select Committee. The Committee was appointed in May 2013 to consider and report on the law and practice relating to inquiries in to matters of public concern, particularly the Inquiries Act 2005. This Act is intended to “provide a framework under which future inquiries…can operate effectively to deliver valuable and practicable recommendations in reasonable time and at a reasonable cost”. The Committee is due to report in early 2014.

Dr Mackie’s appearance to give evidence to the Select Committee, and indeed the very fact of the Committee’s establishment, marks a significant change in current thinking about the Inquiry system. Following the 2005 Act, high profile Inquiries such as Leveson and Mid Staffordshire have been convened, gathered evidence and reported on much tighter timescales and budgets than historical Inquiries, such as the £200 million, 13 year-long Saville Inquiry. Reform and innovation could make the Inquiries process more cost effective and more responsive to the needs of stakeholders.

The session covered a wide range of issues regarding Public Inquiries, ranging from whether Public Inquiries have a utility at all, through the varying roles and influences of politicians, chairmen, lawyers and the public on the Public Inquiry process and the ways in which a Public Inquiry can be more cost-effective and efficient.  Dr Mackie spoke about CEDR’s research into Public Inquiries through the CEDR Foundation’s two-year Inquiry into Inquiries project and the draft recommendations that CEDR proposes for improving the Public Inquiry system.  Among those recommendations discussed today include the establishment of an Independent Inquiries Office which would be able to oversee practicalities regarding Inquiries and become a fount of knowledge for those conducting Inquiries as well as for the general public.  Additionally, Dr Mackie raised the importance of involving the public in the Inquiry process, both by working with those who consider themselves victims of an incident as well as increasing public understanding.

Dr Mackie’s reception at the Select Committee shows that there is interest in considering alternative methods of resolving disputes across the spectrum of public and private issues and an increasing focus on the importance of the effect of methodology on those who use such processes.

You can view Dr Mackie’s session at the following link: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=13666

To read more about CEDR’s Inquiry into Inquiry project, please follow this link .

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