Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Bill
Danny Alexander (Chief Secretary, HM Treasury; Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, Liberal Democrat)
As I shall explain, we are not seeking to circumscribe unnecessarily the nature or structure of the guarantees, either through the Bill or through the announcements that the Government have made. We are willing to have discussions with those involved in projects that meet the criteria that have been set out, and it might well be that different structures of
guarantee will be appropriate for different projects. I do not wish artificially to circumscribe the flexibility of the scheme in advance of the discussions with the individual projects. I am sure that those involved in the projects will be well able to have discussions with Infrastructure UK about the nature of the guarantee that would suit them best.
I was explaining the convention that the Government should not rest significant expenditure under common law powers on the sole authority of general supply legislation. Accordingly, to offer the support we want to see, Government need Parliament’s authority to incur expenditure in connection with agreements to provide financial assistance and to pay out on liabilities should they be called upon.
Today we seek authority for the Treasury to incur up to £50 billion of expenditure in connection with giving financial assistance to infrastructure across the UK. That financial assistance might take the form of guarantees, loans, indemnities or other support backed by public funds. It could be used—