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Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 6:30 pm on 23rd January 2017.

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Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice 6:30 pm, 23rd January 2017

There are two points there. On Mrs Foster's culpability, the reality, indisputably, is that the GB scheme that was first produced had within it tiering in the tariffs. The Northern Ireland scheme, based on that template, is almost identical in every dimension save the tiering in the tariffs. Therefore, a conscious decision was taken in Northern Ireland to remove from the template that they had from GB the tiering in the tariffs. The one person, the one Minister, the only Minister who is accountable for that is the Minister who signed off the scheme. The Minister who signed off the scheme is Arlene Foster. There is no hiding place for her on this. That is indisputable, and it is no excuse to say, "No civil servant told me that I should not sign off a scheme that had taken out the tariffs". If she had been across her brief at all and was asking questions at all and was not just thinking of the next photo opportunity but was thinking about what the job was about, she would have been interrogating the issue of why we were doing this. Surely, she did not fall, as was the contention that was made somewhere, I think to the PAC, for the juvenile belief that there was that this was free money.

Surely, as a Minister, she knew that once you tamper with a national scheme to make it more expensive regionally, you pay the difference. There is no such thing as free money in those circumstances. Surely she did not fall for that, or did she?