RHI Scheme Recipients

Oral Answers to Questions — Economy – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 24th January 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Claire Hanna Claire Hanna Social Democratic and Labour Party 3:15 pm, 24th January 2017

T3. Ms Hanna asked the Minister for the Economy what contingency or plan B, which would allow for transparency, his Department had in place in the event of a ruling against publishing the RHI names. (AQT 698/16-21)

Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP

As I said earlier to others, including the Member's colleague, the ruling has just been made in the last hour. I have not seen it yet and will wish to study it carefully, as the Member would expect, before deciding what we do. I reiterate that I want to have the fullest possible transparency on the details of recipients of the non-domestic RHI scheme. It is with that in mind that I will look at the ruling and come forward with a decision as quickly as possible.

Photo of Claire Hanna Claire Hanna Social Democratic and Labour Party

My question was about a contingency or plan B, as the challenge was entirely foreseeable. Has the Minister given any thought to publishing an anonymised list? Such a list could contain some geographical detail, the date, the output and the payment, so that we can get a sense of the levels of applicants that are credible and not credible.

Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP

I thank the Member for her question, which was asked in the appropriate spirit. The whole purpose of doing this was to seek to instil better public confidence. The Member said that it was foreseeable that it was going to be challenged, and I suppose it was. From what I have heard about the judgement, it states that it not permissible to publish the names of members of the Renewable Heat Association, which is slightly left field. However, I am happy to look at other options and will do so.

It is interesting that the Member said that something short of the full disclosure that the court is preventing may help to instil public confidence. That is what I want to do, that is what my objective is, and I will look at the option that the Member has proposed, along with others, in the hope of achieving maximum transparency whilst keeping to the aim of instilling public confidence in the scheme.