Section 134: Inquiries: CHAI
290.Section 134 provides for the Secretary of State or the Assembly to initiate a public or private inquiry into matters concerning the exercise of any of the CHAI’s functions. Subsection (1) provides that the Secretary of State may initiate an inquiry in respect of the exercise of any matter connected with the exercise of the functions of the CHAI. Subsection (2) provides that the Assembly may do likewise in respect of any matter connected with the exercise of the functions of the CHAI in relation to health care by or for Welsh NHS bodies.
291.Subsection (3) gives the Secretary of State or the Assembly the power to make the inquiry wholly private, but where no such direction is given, subsection (4) enables the person holding the inquiry to make it wholly or partly private. This might be necessary, for example, to protect patient confidentiality.
292.Subsection (5) provides for section 250(2) to (5) of the Local Government Act 1972 to apply in relation to an inquiry undertaken in England or Wales. This will enable the person holding the inquiry to issue a summons requiring an individual to give evidence or produce any documents in their custody or under their control at a stated time and place. If that person fails to attend (for reasons other than not having the necessary expenses of their visit paid or tendered), they may be liable to a fine or imprisonment.
293.Subsections (6) and (7) require that reports of inquiries set up under the powers in this section should be published unless the Secretary of State or Assembly, as appropriate, decides, for good reason, that publication would be inappropriate. Grounds for not publishing might include, for example, publication being prejudicial to any ongoing criminal investigation.