Chancellor George Osborne is not going to “murder his own baby” and scrap the Green Investment Bank.
So said Chris Huhne this morning, as he was forced to explain comments he made which suggested the GIB would be downgraded to a fund.
Yesterday, The Guardian newspaper ran an interview with the energy secretary in which he said: “Obviously, if we were to turn around and have the GIB borrowing vast amounts of money tomorrow, I can understand that managers of the national debt would be a little alarmed.”
“I am absolutely at one with the Treasury on the need to make sure our fiscal credibility is completely re-established. The key issue is whether or not having established our fiscal credibility, what then happens?
He then said: “There are phasing issues, there are transition issues. What is the point at which maybe it begins as a fund and later is a bank? Let there be no doubt that the first overwhelming priority of the government has to be to get the deficit down.”
This morning during Hr Huhne’s question time in the House of Commons, shadow energy secretary Meg Hillier seized on these comments and demanded an update on the progress, and expectations, of the GIB.
She wanted to know: “Has the country lost out? A properly-functioning bank cannot wait.”
But Mr Huhne said that The Guardian’s story presented “a partial view of what I said”.
He said that the GIB was “still under review” and this review would result in “an institution that will do what it says on the tin”.
He also stressed that as the GIB was originally the idea of George Osborne while he was in the shadow cabinet, it was unlikely that “the Chancellor was going to murder his own baby”.