Today the House of Commons votes (in a deferred division between 11.30am and 2pm) on whether to restrict funding to the Green Investment Bank following the Prime Minister’s statement a week ago that we “need to roll back the green charges”.
In a Commons Committee on Monday, a majority of Conservative backbenchers selected by the whips to consider next steps for the Green Investment Bank voted to restrict its funding. We did this by voting ‘No’ to a ‘Designation’ Order proposed by Vince Cable for the Green Investment Bank to receive government financial assistance.
The Minister updated the Committee that “The bank has so far made commitments totalling £714 million into green projects, including projects in each of its four principal priority areas, which are offshore wind, energy efficiency, waste recycling and waste to energy” and that it had previously been proposed “that it will have a total of £3.8 billion of funding for the period to March 2016”.
Bizarrely we learnt that, rather than just being added to electricity bills, £775 million of funding for the Green Investment Bank was to come from track access charges paid by Kent commuters and Eurostar passengers using HS1. We were also concerned to learn that the Bank would have its HQ in Edinburgh but its ‘major transaction team’ would be based in London, similar to the RBS model.
Today’s vote on whether to support this bank financially is unusual since, while Parliament scrutinises tax decisions closely, it usually has little say on spending decisions, with government ‘Estimates’ usually going through without debate and on the nod.
Because of the way the Green Investment Bank is structured, a separate vote in Parliament is needed on whether to ‘Designate’ the Bank for the Government to give it financial assistance through what the minister described as “a bespoke power to fund”.
Whether the Liberal Democrats like it or not a ‘No’ vote in the deferred division today could roll back the green levies to get bills down for our constituents.