Business minister Nick Hurd has reiterated the Government’s commitment to preserving the Green Investment Bank’s (GIB) ’green values’ after privatisation, but has again declined to appear before a Parliamentary watchdog.
In January, Environmental Audit Committee chair Mary Creagh (pictured) protested when the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) refused to put ministers or advisers before the committee to answer concerns about the GIB sale.
Hurd has now written to Creagh to say full details of the sale would be made available, but insisted he could not say more because of commercial confidentiality.
Creagh accused Beis of keeping Parliament “in the dark” while reports about the sale of the bank were regulary appearing in the media.
She also noted that, between November and December 2016, the GIB created and incorporated 12 special purpose vehicles (SPVs) at Companies House and was concerned at the implications for the sale.
In his letter, Hurd wrote: “I would like to reassure you that the Government is committed to keeping Parliament as informed as possible about the sale process, while respecting the contractual commitments that it has made to bidders in relation to confidentiality.”
He said he had answered questions from MPs in the House of Commons and there had been a debate in Westminster Hall.
“We have committed in legislation to providing Parliament with a full report on the sale as soon as possible after the disposal of the Government’s shares,” he wrote.
He said one SPV was incorporated to support the GIB’s investment in an offshore wind farm.
“The remaining 11 SPVs were incorporated in order to facilitate the potential introduction of private capital into a number of the bank’s offshore wind assets, following discussion between the GIB and the Government. These entities are currently dormant and own no assets.”
Hurd said commercial confidentiality limited further detail from Beis on Creagh’s queries.
“However, I would reiterate that one of the Government’s key objectives is to ensure that any sale protects the GIB’s green values, and enables the business grow and continue as an institution supporting investment in the UK green economy.”
Creagh told MRW: “It’s disappointing that ministers have refused to appear in front of my committee to answer our questions about the creation of 12 new SPVs. We will continue to seek reassurances from the Government that the Green Investment Bank will continue to exist as an investor in low-carbon projects after it is sold.”
- Mary Creagh is interviewed about waste policy in the April issue of MRW