The business bank will tackle long-standing market failures in the provision of finance to small and medium-sized businesses. I expect the business bank to be fully operational in 2014, subject to EU state aid approval. Its programmes are being operated from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills as an interim arrangement to help businesses straight away, including the £300 million investment programme launched in April.
I thank the Secretary of State for that answer, but in December 2012 he told this House that the business bank was already established. In fact, as he has just said, it is really operating with a re-named group of civil servants from his own Department. What assurance do we have that it will become a bank by 2014, or ever?
I do not know whether the hon. Lady is suggesting somehow short-circuiting the whole state aid approval process. The last I heard, the Labour party was committed to the rules of the European Union. If it wants to break them, it should perhaps make that explicit. In the meantime, we operate within the rules and that means we have a team of professional people—they are not civil servants; they are from the financial sector—who are doing an admirable job and are already out in the market with a heavily oversubscribed offering which we hope to see deployed very quickly.