Amendment 13

Part of UK Infrastructure Bank Bill [HL] - Report – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 4th July 2022.

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Photo of Lord Tunnicliffe Lord Tunnicliffe Shadow Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow Minister (Transport) 6:00 pm, 4th July 2022

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Sharkey, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas, for tabling the various amendments in this group. I was pleased to sign Amendment 18, which would increase transparency relating to Treasury directions. The Minister and her officials have offered several helpful assurances on this subject during discussions between Committee and Report. I am grateful for those assurances, but I am not convinced that they go far enough. As with the earlier group on job creation and levelling up, this may be another area where the Treasury leans on the framework document as the preferred way forward. If that is where we end up after the Bill has been considered in another place, so be it, but there is merit in this House taking a view on transparency safeguards today.

Sadly, we have become all too familiar with non-legislative commitments or safeguards being flouted. By strengthening Clause 4, we can at least ensure that the bank will have a voice if there are concerns around the Treasury’s use of its powers. Accordingly, if the noble Lord, Lord Sharkey, divides the House on this issue, he will have our support.

Elsewhere, I appreciate the wish of the noble Lord, Lord Sharkey, to see the regulations under Clause 2 subject to a form of super-affirmative procedure. However, this concern was not raised by your Lordships’ Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, and we will of course debate relevant regulations if and when they are brought forward in the future. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas, has tabled a number of amendments in this group, and I hope that the Minister will be able to provide a comprehensive reply.

As with so many other pieces of Whitehall legislation, there is a clear overlap with devolved competence, and the Government will therefore have to seek consent Motions. I have huge sympathy for Amendment 21, which seeks to ensure formal consultation with the devolved authorities in certain circumstances. While the Government will dispute this, they have a poor and arguably worsening record in engaging with colleagues in the devolved nations. However, I am not convinced that an amendment to the Bill would change that, or that Conservative MPs will defy the Whip when the Bill is considered in the Commons. I hope this is an area where the Minister can provide strong, non-legislative commitments. Crucially, the Government must then follow through on them.

The union is at least fragile, and the way these relationships are conducted can add to that fragility. It is crucial on this occasion that the Government do everything they can to overcome the present concerns on this matter.