Driven forward by Vince Cable, the then Liberal Minister for Trade and Enterprise, the bank was set up in 2012 under the previous coalition government
Despite a ‘rock solid’ British government pledge that the bank will retain its head office in Edinburgh after Australia’s MacQuarrie bank completes its £1 billion take-over, this ‘pledge’ will likely end up as a brass plate in the New Town, probably next to the UK government’s Scotland Office in Melville Crescent.
Former Conservative climate change minister Lord Gregory Barker said that he is becoming “increasingly alarmed” that the Green Investment Bank – whose chairman is Lord ‘Scotland Act’ Smith – could be broken up after its sale.
MP Clive Lewis, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for BEIS, Clive Lewis, echoed these concerns, telling BusinessGreen the bank is at risk of being “broken up, sold off and it’s green commitments forgotten”.
And today (3 Jan 2017) former Labour MP and now lawyer Mark Lazarowicz said that a ‘strong campaign’ is needed by Scotland’s poliltical leaders so save the Green Investment Bank.
Last week, the minority-SNP Scottish Government wrote to the UK Government to discuss concerns over the progress of the Green Investment Bank privatisation.
MSP Keith Brown, Scottish jobs minister, has expressed concerns over reports that the completion of the transaction process will result in the complete break-up of the bank’s current portfolio, and may result in an asset stripping exercise with significant financial rewards for any new owner.
He also requested that British government ‘re-confirm’ its commitment to protect the 50 jobs supported at the Green Investment Bank’s Edinburgh head office.
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It is a widely accepted law of Scottish political gravity that when a UK public sector body located in Scotland is privatised, the move into the private sector is swiftly followed by a physical move of the head office and senior management to London.
Brown said: “I am extremely disappointed with the approach that the UK Government has adopted around the sale of the Green Investment Bank, which has been characterised by an unacceptable lack of communication throughout.
“In 2015 the then Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills gave assurances that he would work to protect the bank’s green purpose, as well as continuing to headquarter the Bank in Edinburgh, not only supporting 50 skilled jobs for Scotland’s capital, but also recognising Scotland’s place at the vanguard of the UK’s green economy.
“Since then I have been made aware of some concerning reports that the privatisation has become more of a fragmentation or asset stripping process which runs counter to the previous commitments made to the Scottish Government. This is deeply troubling considering the vital role that the bank serves in our green economy.”
“The veiled manner in which privatisation is taking place offers no reassurance that the future of the Green Investment Bank is being modelled in line with the reassurances offered to the Scottish Government in 2015 which state that the original purpose of the bank would be maintained.
“The UK Government should update the Scottish Government on the progress of privatisation and provide clarification that previous assurances are being adhered to. I also want to be absolutely clear that the Scottish Government will voice any concerns and continue to apply pressure to ensure that our objectives remain a priority as part of the privatisation process.”