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Written Statements

Monday 21 March 2016

Business, Innovation and Skills

Green Investment Bank

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and President of the Board of Trade (Sajid Javid): On 3 March, I formally launched the process of sale of UK Green Investment Bank plc (GIB) into the private sector (Transaction). The company’s success means there is strong market interest in GIB from a number of long term institutional investors and Government funding is no longer needed.

As Government are the selling shareholder and receiving the proceeds of the sale, I believe it is reasonable and appropriate in the context of the transaction to grant the following indemnity on behalf of Government.

BIS will be entering into an agreement with Poyry (electricity market report and associated price forecast provider) to release and share their information as part of the sale process to potential bidders. It is an important component of a bidder’s due diligence, risk assessment and ultimately the price they would be willing to pay. BIS would indemnify for any liability that Poyry incurs as a result of using their information in the sale process that may be brought by potential bidders in relation to the transaction. Poyry has been clear that they require such indemnities to share their information with potential bidders.

The indemnities are uncapped and are not time limited; however, the chances of the indemnities being called upon will reduce over time. It is not possible at this stage to accurately quantify the value of such indemnities. HMG has considered the risks throughout the process and I believe the likelihood of such indemnities being called upon is low.

It is normal practice when a Government Department proposes to undertake a contingent liability in excess of £300,000 for which there is no specific statutory authority for the Minister concerned to present a departmental minute to Parliament giving particulars of the liability created, explaining the circumstances and to refrain from incurring the liability until 14 parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the statement, except in cases of special urgency and/or confidentiality.

Copies of the departmental minute will be placed in the Library of the House explaining the procedure followed and containing a description of the liabilities undertaken.

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Leader of the House

Short Money

The Leader of the House of Commons (Chris Grayling): I wish to update the House on the Government’s proposed reforms to Short money.

The autumn statement in November outlined proposals to reform Short money and last month, the Cabinet Office published a request for views, which was followed by further constructive discussions with political parties.

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These discussions have now concluded and the Government are bringing forward a package of proposals to reform Short money and Representative money, recognising the importance of an effective Opposition to hold the Government to account. The changes will deliver an estimated cumulative £3.6 million saving to taxpayer-funded Short money over this Parliament and increase transparency and accountability over how taxpayers’ money is spent.

A motion delivering these reforms will be tabled later today for consideration by the House on Wednesday 23 March. In summary, the motion will propose the following changes:

The annual indexation would be linked to CPI rather than RPI.

The CPI change would mean that Short money figures for the 2016-17 financial year would be based on the uprating of the 2015-16 figures by reference to CPI, rather than RPI.

Transparency requirements would be introduced to safeguard the spending of taxpayers’ money. It would provide for a regime of publishing audited accounts, with a breakdown of Short money spending, including transparency over senior staff salaries.

The Members Estimates Committee would determine the detail of the auditing and transparency regime; the reporting should commence for the 2016-17 financial year.

The transparency regime would reflect the need for enhanced scrutiny of HM Opposition.

The Members Estimates Committee would be tasked to consider the effect of planned reduction in the size of the House of Commons on the Short money formula from 2020-21 onwards, recognising the goal of reducing the cost of politics; it would report by end of the 2016-2017 session.

A minimum funding floor would be introduced for the smallest parties (parties up to and including five MPs). This would be 50% of the IPSA staff allowance for one non-London area MP.

A maximum funding ceiling would be introduced for the smallest parties (parties up to and including five MPs). This would be 150% of the IPSA staff allowance for one non-London area MP.

The resolution would come into effect from the start of 2016-17 financial year.

The Representative money scheme would be amended to mirror the changes to Short money.

In addition, policy development grants will remain frozen, so they will fall in real terms in each year over this Parliament.

These balanced and reasonable proposals will deliver a significant saving of taxpayers’ money, reducing expenditure by 10.6% compared with forecast levels, and will further extend the Government’s ongoing transparency agenda.

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Transport

High Speed 2

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin): Today HS2 Ltd has published its report on “Broad options for upgraded and high speed railways

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to the North of England and Scotland.” I am grateful to HS2 Ltd for its report, which fulfils the remit we gave it, exploring options to:

improve journey times from Edinburgh and Glasgow to cities further south, including options that could reduce journey times to London to 3 hours or under;

provide additional passenger and freight capacity where it is projected that future demand

will not otherwise be met.

The report considers various options for building on HS2, including:

upgrades within the footprint of the existing railway;

new high speed bypasses of constrained track sections; and

complete new lines on either the east or west of the Pennines.

These alternatives range in cost between £17 and £43 billion to reach a three hour journey time, although some are capable of being constructed in stages. All have their advantages and disadvantages.

HS2 Ltd was asked to look at overall feasibility and costs and the report does not provide detailed consideration of the benefits of particular options. This work would need to be done before any decisions on options or routes could be made.

The Department for Transport and Scottish Government will continue to work in partnership with the ultimate aim of achieving journey times of 3 hours between Scotland’s central belt and London.

That requires us to continue to drive forward our plans for HS2:

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From when Phase One opens in 2026, new HS2 trains will be arriving in Glasgow from London in 3 hours 56 minutes.

Journey times will fall further, to 3 hours 43 minutes, thanks to the acceleration of the route to Crewe in 2027

Then, when the full “Y” Network opens in 2033, journey times to both Glasgow and Edinburgh will be reduced to around 3 hours 38.

In addition, we need to look at what more should be done. I recognise the continuing investment that is likely to be necessary if we are to meet projected passenger and freight growth on the West and East Coast Mainlines.

Therefore, in this control period the Department for Transport and Transport Scotland will take forward work with Network Rail to identify any and all options with strong business cases, for consideration for implementation in CP6 and 7, that can improve journey times, capacity, resilience and reliability on routes between England and Scotland. This will include consideration of how these improvements can be future-proofed to allow further progress towards 3 hour journeys.

I will place a copy of the broad options for upgraded and high speed railways to the North of England and Scotland in the Library of both Houses.

Attachments can be viewed online at http://www.parliament. uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-03-21/HCWS635/.

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