Orders of the Day — European Investment Fund

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:33 pm on 29th November 1993.

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Photo of Mr Bowen Wells Mr Bowen Wells , Hertford and Stortford 10:33 pm, 29th November 1993

I welcome the new initiative and facility for the European investment bank. The bank has long needed to be able to invest in equities, but it has not had that ability. The new facility to guarantee loans is also extremely welcome.

I should like to add two other points to the list of questions asked by the hon. Member for Oxford, East (Mr. Smith). First, it seems to me that the change requires a completely different managerial approach by the bank, which is traditionally a conservative bank and has operated, generally speaking, with Government guarantees and other means of securing its lending. An advance into equity lending will be quite foreign to most of its personnel, and they will need additional training. The bank will also need the injection of people with experience in the private sector so that it can make those equity investments on a sound basis.

There is another problem that I would be grateful if the Economic Secretary would explain to the House. How will the bank account to the nation states' Parliaments and to the European Parliament in Strasbourg? The new facility will require careful monitoring, and there should be careful arranged accounting procedures to the Parliaments and possibly to the Public Accounts Committee.