I appreciate the concerns raised by my constituents about the proposed sale of the Green Investment Bank (GIB).
The GIB, in public hands, has been a great British success story. It has funded innovative technology to fight climate change and created export opportunities for a decarbonising world. I agree that it can continue to maintain an important economic role, helping to drive innovation, green energy and infrastructure in the UK. I therefore believe that the Government should stop its proposed sale.
The green infrastructure that our future low-carbon economy will need requires patient, long-term investment. While the Government states that sale of the GIB will enable it to access greater capital to invest in green infrastructure, the market failure that the GIB is designed to overcome still exists. I am therefore concerned that the measures the Government has put in place will not be sufficient to protect the green purposes of the GIB. This is particularly so given reports about the Government's preferred bidder for the GIB.
The Australian bank Macquarie, which is believed to be the preferred bidder for the GIB, is reported to have a track record of breaking up companies and selling their profitable assets. Furthermore, the Government has confirmed that 11 new companies have been set up within the GIB to enable the introduction of private finance into a number of GIB assets. I know that a number of individuals and organisations, including the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, are worried that this restructuring would enable a new owner of the GIB to break up the company and sell off its most profitable assets.
I note that recent reports have suggested that the Government could abandon its proposed sale and instead float shares in the GIB on the stock market. Although the Government says that it continues to consider a proposal from a preferred bidder, I would welcome any Government rethink that would protect the green purpose and core assets of the GIB.