Green Investment Bank

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:40 pm on 11th January 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Co-Leader of the Green Party 12:40 pm, 11th January 2017

I thank the Minister for his reply, but it gives very little reassurance, given that everybody knows who the preferred bidder is. The preferred bidder, Macquarie, has a very, very worrying and dubious track record. I am putting this question today with support from across the House.

This week, we heard that the Green Investment Bank stands on the brink not just of being flogged off but broken up, with its green purposes discarded. Founded in 2012, the GIB has been widely recognised as a true success story, kick-starting truly innovative low-carbon projects across the UK, yet the preferred bidder—Macquarie—not only has a dismal and terrible environmental record but an appalling track record of asset-stripping. So why have the Government given preferred bidder status to this company? What assessment have the Government made of Macquarie’s record, given that in 2005 the board of the London stock exchange deemed Macquarie unfit to conduct a takeover?

Furthermore, research this week uncovered changes to the GIB’s corporate structure. Between 22 November and 1 December, 10 new companies were incorporated and registered to the GIB’s London offices. The changes suggest that Macquarie is planning to fundamentally hollow out the GIB. Why have the 10 new companies been set up? Will the Minister confirm whether the changes made at the end of last year were made at the behest of Macquarie? Why are the Government setting up a structure to invite in a property asset stripper? If the GIB has been restructured in such a way as to allow it to be stripped of its assets, how can the Government guarantee that the special share, supposedly introduced to protect the future of the GIB, will have the intended effect?

Is this not exactly the wrong time to be selling off the GIB, given that the Government have decided to embark on a new industrial strategy which must, to be in accord with our own climate change commitments, have low-carbon projects at its core? Finally, will the Minister admit that this selling off could lead to the bank being fatally undermined as an enduring institution? Will he stop the killing off of the Green Investment Bank? Will he halt the sale process with immediate effect?