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EAC MPs fail to win 'safeguard' over GIB future

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has renewed its concern over the future of the Green Investment Bank (GIB), despite government assurances over its privatisation.

When business secretary Sajid Javid announced the GIB’s privatisation, he promised it would continue to invest in green businesses.

After concerns raised by the EAC, Javid said that GIB’s private ownership would include a ’special share’ held by an independent company, which would then have to give consent if the bank were to change its sustainability focus.

MPs, including members of the EAC, proposed additional clauses to be added to the government’s enterprise bill, which includes details of the GIB’s sale, after concerns that the share would not be binding - but they were rejected.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas wanted each prospective purchaser to have to give an enforceable undertaking to fully fund the bank’s current five-year business plan.

Speaking in the House of Commons, she said: “The special share has no legal underpinning. In addition, the Government’s overestimation of the ease with which they will sell the bank is a real problem.”

Lucas added that the GIB’s focus on “complex and novel investments” was something a publicly owned bank was “uniquely fitted to be able to fulfil”.

EAC chair Mary Creagh (pictured) expressed similar concern that the proposed special share “might not be carried forward in any future sale of assets”.

“The bank may be sold once, but the danger is that the next time it is sold, it may well be a case of, ‘We want to get rid of all this stuff about the green part of what the bank does’,” she said.

Before the claues were rejected, business minister Anna Soubry said: “Business plans change and evolve as new opportunities arise, and we will not bind new owners into the current plan.”

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