Skip to main content

Inquiries: Northern Ireland

Volume 705: debated on Tuesday 11 November 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What consideration has been given to capping the cost of public inquiries in Northern Ireland. [HL5929]

There are no plans to set a cap on any of the public inquiries' overall costs, which might curtail the inquiries before they have fulfilled their terms of reference. However, the Secretary of State has set caps on the individual hourly fee levels for lawyers who are publicly funded to provide legal assistance for parties and witnesses at the following levels:

Senior Counsel


Leading Junior Counsel

£175 (this applies in the Robert Hamill inquiry only)

Junior Counsel




He has also set a cap of 40 hours a week that may be claimed. This may be extended to 60 hours during the oral hearings, and a two-month period before they commence, upon application to the inquiry chairman provided this is justified in all the circumstances. These limitations are enforced by means of a formal notice of determination under Section 40(4) of the Inquiries Act 2005 in the Robert Hamill inquiry and Billy Wright inquiry. Furthermore, Section 17(3) of the Inquiries Act imposes a specific duty on the inquiry chairman to have regard to cost in procedural decisions:

“In making any decision as to the procedure or conduct of an inquiry, the chairman must act with fairness and with the regard also to the need to avoid any unnecessary costs (whether to public funds or to witnesses or to others)”.

The Rosemary Nelson inquiry is operating under the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998. The inquiry has been instructed to operate within the same limits as those that have been applied under the Inquiries Act.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What has been the cost to date of (a) the Bloody Sunday inquiry; (b) the Rosemary Nelson inquiry; (c) the Robert Hamill inquiry; and (d) the Billy Wright inquiry. [HL5930]

The costs to date for the inquiries are shown in the following table.


Cost to end-September 2008

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry

£184.60 million

The Rosemary Nelson Inquiry

£31.70 million

The Robert Hamill Inquiry

£17.59 million

The Billy Wright Inquiry

£19.40 million