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

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:45 pm on 23rd January 2017.

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Photo of Trevor Lunn Trevor Lunn Alliance 3:45 pm, 23rd January 2017

You can say "oof"; I have heard you say worse than that.

[Laughter.]

We hear a lot about ministerial responsibility. I have been here long enough to know that when Ministers get something right they are perfectly happy to take the credit, preen themselves and say, "This is a fantastic result". They are not so keen to take responsibility when something goes wrong or, in this particular situation, for the activities of special advisers, which has been much addressed. There is absolutely no doubt about it: a Minister is responsible for the actions of their special adviser. It does not matter whether he or she authorised those actions; he or she is still responsible. When I hear about Ministers not being across every jot and tittle or having to rely on their Department or advisers, or when I hear that they did not know that their advisers were doing particular things, I wonder what is going on.

In July 2015, the Minister of the day, who is with us today — Mr Bell — his permanent secretary, who is with us today; and the special adviser, Timothy Cairns, recommended that the scheme should be closed. What happened then? They had a visit from another special adviser —