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Green Investment Bank

Volume 516: debated on Thursday 14 October 2010

We remain committed to creating a green investment bank that will support the growth, industrial transformation and greening of the UK economy. Over the summer, we made good progress on the role and form of the bank and its relationship with other Government policies. I will make a statement on the bank shortly after the spending review.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. May I encourage him, in the remaining days before the final settlement of Government spending is reached, to ensure that a green investment bank has sufficient funds to make it a real agent for change towards a sustainable economy as well as the ability to lever in the maximum additional investment, and to follow the best models in other countries and among those proposed to the Government? This is a real test of the Government’s green credentials, and I hope he fights that case to the wire.

I accept that the test my hon. Friend sets is a good test of the Government’s green credentials. The bank must be ambitious and it must lever in substantial amounts of private capital. We must not be excessively constrained and must open up the possibility of subsequent expansion. I am sure we will give him a satisfactory answer.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that if a green investment bank is to be successful, it must embrace all the science and technology available in our country? Much of that is seated in our great universities—we have over 120—but has he not already sold the pass? There will be substantial cuts in university budgets, which will affect towns, cities and innovation in this country.

You are right, Mr Speaker, that we have strayed a little.

The hon. Gentleman chaired the Select Committee on Children, Schools and Families for many years, so I am sure he knows that in my statement on Tuesday, I spoke about the implication of the teaching grant for student-graduate contributions. The implications for research remain to be seen till next week.

Does the Secretary of State agree that the green investment bank is a key part of the important task of shifting our low-carbon policy from one that is based on restriction, targets and negative regulation to one based on enterprise, innovation, science and community? Crucially, does he also agree that the bank must be able to issue bonds? Will he make representations to the Treasury to ensure that its ability to do so is established in the legislation?

At this stage, we are not specifying the precise financial techniques that will be employed, but clearly, we will retain options and look at the variety of possibilities in future. Moreover, I would stress that the green investment bank is one of several policies that is driving the low-carbon economy, which also include reform of the electricity tariff system, the green deal and those that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change is pursuing.