RHI: Lessons

Oral Answers to Questions — Finance – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 18th October 2021.

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Photo of Rosemary Barton Rosemary Barton UUP 3:15 pm, 18th October 2021

T3. Mrs Barton asked the Minister of Finance to outline his oversight of and input into delivering the renewable heat incentive (RHI) lessons that were identified. (AQT 1693/17-22)

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

The RHI inquiry report has finally been through Executive clearance. The Member will know that the subcommittee met for some time when the Executive were reformed. All parties in the Executive were involved in the subcommittee that produced the report that deals with the recommendations. We therefore now have an agreed corporate response from the Executive. It was published on 6 October. The corporate response looks at issues relating to the codes and the strengthening of accountability and transparency, as well as at broader issues of Civil Service performance and recruitment.

The response has therefore been published. I want to ensure that we continue with the reform programme arising from the lessons learned from RHI and bring reform forward so that we have a better system and can ensure that such a scheme can never again be conceived, operated, developed and conducted in the same manner as the RHI was.

Photo of Rosemary Barton Rosemary Barton UUP

The written statement from the Minister, two weeks ago, showed a marked similarity to the response made by senior civil servants to the RHI inquiry in 2018. Bearing in mind the seven significant areas for improvement that were identified then, why has the report taken so long, particularly as he is chair of the Executive subcommittee?

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

The Executive subcommittee reported back to the Executive in, I think, April. In fact, I think that it was earlier. It was perhaps nine months ago. I do not have control over what papers are allowed on to the Executive agenda. The subcommittee, however, did its work in good time and presented to the Executive. The report did not get on to the agenda until the week before last, and it was published, eventually. We have continued working on a range of issues from the response, such as codes and Civil Service reform, and I want to see those matters progressed as quickly as possible.