New Clause 10 — Green deal installation apprenticeships

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 2:15 pm on 14th September 2011.

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Photo of Gregory Barker Gregory Barker The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change 2:15 pm, 14th September 2011

That is a very important point. I do not rule it out completely. It is unnecessary to do so at this stage. But we do not anticipate that it will be necessary, and it is certainly not part of our planning and budgeting. Rather than the green investment bank subsidising interest rates at the consumer end of the journey, it is more likely that it will play a role in helping to pump-prime the liquidity in the bond market when we first see companies taking these aggregated packages of green deal finance and seeking to offer them into the bond market as new securitised products. In the long term, there is an exciting future, and there will be a lot of strong institutional demand for such products.

The conversations that we have had with the largest city institutions and banks have been encouraging and we have set up a working group. Short-term interventions to aid initial liquidity are more likely to be a fruitful use of green investment bank money. Although the coalition Government have promised £3 billion, substantially more than anyone anticipated at the general election, to fund this new important piece of financial architecture in the City of London, which will make a substantial difference to our economy and drive green growth, that money can be spent only once. The key to the green investment bank priorities must be to address market failure. We cannot keep spending that money time after time. There are many demands on the green investment bank funding, and if the market, as we believe, is capable of supplying competitive interest rates in a way that is affordable to most consumers, supported by the ECO subsidy, it would be quite wrong to use green investment bank money when we clearly need to prioritise other areas of the low-carbon economy as well.

Likewise, as the hon. Lady can imagine, DECC is pushing for an ambitious ECO. This is a huge opportunity that is extremely cost-effective, and in terms of the hierarchy of spend on the low-carbon transition, the ECO represents incredibly good value, particularly compared with forms of low-carbon generation; but, again, the ECO comes out of consumers’ bills, and there is a balance to be struck. We cannot keep pushing up the ECO, because ultimately that will start to become regressive. When the coalition came into government, we took steps to reduce consumers’ bills by taking off the cost of funding the CCS programme and taking it into general taxation. We took measures to ensure that the renewable heat programme would not be funded through consumers’ bills but out of general taxation, and that is a progressive measure. We have to ensure that we get the right balance and have an ECO that is good for consumers and does the job. We cannot treat it as a magic pot of money. It is paid by every energy bill payer, and more than ever, as world energy prices go up, they are scrutinising bills to ensure that they are getting good value for money.