Legislation to establish a framework for Oireachtas inquiries will allow witnesses recoup legal costs if their good name is called into question.

Such inquiries will include the probe into the banking crisis.

Documentation published by the Government says witnesses will not be required to have a lawyer, but can have one at their own expense.

An information note on the new legislation says "it will not be the case that an inquiry will be taken out of the hands of the members of the Oireachtas and conducted by legal experts".

The legislation is intended to provide assistance to a banking inquiry but can be used for other probes.

An Inquire Record and Report probe "could be conducted to seek to establish the full narrative of a specific event or decision such as the events leading up to the end of the bank guarantee".

There is also provision for a legislative inquiry, which can be conducted into the performance of the functions and responsibilities of public bodies.

The note adds that "the purpose of the inquiry must be forward looking rather than a cloak to investigate specific past events".

Inquiries will not be allowed to directly attribute blame or responsibility to individuals.

The note said: "Such an inquiry could be a powerful tool for establishing facts, making findings and recommendations in relation to the significant issues of public policy."