Public Inquiry on the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme

Part of Ministerial Statement – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 4:30 pm on 24th January 2017.

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Photo of Robin Swann Robin Swann UUP 4:30 pm, 24th January 2017

I start by reassuring Mr Maskey that, if the Ulster Unionist Party gets Finance, we will not interfere with the publication of the inquiry.

I have a point of clarification for the Minister. It was not, in fact, the Comptroller and Auditor General who triggered the PAC inquiry; the Public Accounts Committee triggered its inquiry on the back of the recommendations in the Comptroller and Auditor General's report.

The Minister referred to the work that the Public Accounts Committee has done and whether that will be made accessible to the inquiry. As Chair of the Committee, I will ask the Committee tomorrow to give assurances that all the documentation that we have, whether confidential or restricted, is forwarded to the inquiry as a matter of expedience. While I am on my feet, I want to pay tribute to the staff of the PAC — Lucia, Elaine, Karen and Darren — for the work that they have done since we started the inquiry. They have done sterling work since we started the inquiry in June.

I want to bring the Minister back to point 16 of the inquiry's terms of reference, which deals with the support that will be given to the panel. It states:

"the Panel will have access to external support and advice, including individuals with appropriate knowledge."

I seek assurance that proper due diligence will be carried out on those individuals to ensure that they have no connection to or any influence on the concept, design or up-to-date auditing of the scheme.

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