My Lords, I welcome the support from across the House for the Bill. However, I have no wish to be standing here moving it and I recognise that your Lordships have no wish to be sitting here listening to me doing so. I fully appreciate that this will not be possible again.
The Executive formation statutory instrument that we shall consider shortly hereafter reminds us that there is a period until
Touching on comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Empey, both today and in the past, the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, asked whether there has been an increase in funding for the health service. There has been an increase of 3.8% in that funding. However, as the noble Lord conceded, the reality is that that amount of money has not been adequate to address the issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Empey, which require more than a 3.8% increase in funding. Although we have put a further £17 million into an in-year monitoring exercise, that too is inadequate to address these significant problems. Only an incoming Executive, or government by other means, can truly address these issues. The shocking statistic presented yesterday by the noble Lord, Lord Empey, and echoed again today by other noble Lords, is chilling to consider. That alone should be reason enough for the parties in Northern Ireland to give due consideration to expediting their ability to get that Executive back up and running—I hope that it is. None the less, this budget must go forward.
I want briefly to touch on the renewable heating incentive. In March, I made statements in the light of a heated but sensible debate in this place about the need for independent assessment of the hardship in Northern Ireland as a consequence of the subsequent and serious failures in developing a workable approach to RHI. I made a number of commitments then. I am reminded of the quotation from the Duke of Wellington when he chaired his first Cabinet meeting. He said that he gave them the orders and discovered that they wanted to discuss them. I said very clearly what I felt was appropriate for the Northern Ireland Civil Service to move forward with, but I cannot order the Northern Ireland Civil Service to move forward on that basis. A protracted discussion then ensued on how to move this issue forward. Steps have been taken, some of which I will rehearse now, but I commit to writing to my noble friend Lord Lexden and placing in the Library a full and detailed assessment of this issue by tomorrow. I will share that assessment, because noble Lords deserve it and should have had it before now.
Let me put on record where we are on this approach. The responsible department in Northern Ireland held a call for evidence between
I will put all this in a detailed response to my noble friend Lord Lexden, to make sure that he has the information. I put on record an apology for this not happening beforehand—he deserved it before now. I should have informed the House of the steps being taken before the debate, rather than doing so now. I hope that noble Lords will accept the apology in the manner in which it is given.