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Lords asks government to think again on UK Infrastructure Bank Bill

5 July 2022

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Members of the Lords completed their further examination of the UK Infrastructure Bank Bill in report stage on Monday 4 July.

Members asked the government to think again on the levelling up remit for the bank and widening the bill's definition of infrastructure.

The UK Infrastructure Bank Bill seeks to place the UK Infrastructure Bank on a statutory footing. The bank is an operationally independent institution wholly-owned by government. The bank’s purposes are to help tackle climate change and to support regional and local economic growth, through investment in infrastructure.

Detailed scrutiny  

Report stage is an extra chance for members to closely scrutinise elements of the bill and make changes.  

Proposed changes 

Members put forward changes (amendments) to consider at report stage.

The amendments covered a range of subjects, including:

  • the remit of the bank
  • investment in infrastructure
  • parliamentary scrutiny of ministers' powers
  • reviews into the bank's work.

Lords divisons

There were three divisions (votes) on proposed changes to the bill.

Infrastructure definitions

The first vote was on amendment 6A, which sought to include nature-based solutions and circular economy principles within the definition of 'infrastructure'.

Members voted 182 in favour and 153 against, so the change was made.

Levelling-up agenda

The second vote was on amendment 12, which requires the bank to consider the public interest in regards to pay, jobs, living standards and economic disparities across UK regions, as set out in the government's levelling up white paper.

Members voted 172 in favour and 158 against, so the change was made.

Devolved governments

The third was on amendment 21, which sought for there to be consultation with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the bank's activities and purpose, strategic priorities and the appointment of directors.

Members voted 73 in favour and 152 against, so the change was not made.

Catch up

Explore further information

Read background on the bill in the House of Lords Library UK Infrastructure Bank Bill briefing.

Next steps

Third reading, a chance for members to make sure the eventual law is effective, workable and without loopholes, is scheduled for Monday 11 July.

What's happened so far?

Committee stage: Tuesday 14 June

Committee stage is the first chance to check the bill in detail and make changes. 

Proposed changes 

Members speaking at committee stage put forward amendments (changes) to the bill to be discussed .

The amendments covered a range of subjects, including:

  • regulation of the bank by the FCA and PRA, whistleblowing and the bank's governance
  • ensuring bank employees are 'fit and proper persons'
  • the bank's operational independence from government and parliamentary scrutiny of changes
  • giving the bank access to international capital markets
  • remit and the bank's objectives, including on climate change and biodiversity, and local and regional economic growth
  • broadening the definition of infrastructure that the bank can invest in.

Catch up

Second reading: Tuesday 24 May

Members discussed the main issues in the bill and flagged concerns on specific areas where they thought amendments (changes) were needed during second reading. Topics covered during the debate included:

  • the scale of the UK Infrastructure Bank compared to other countries' institutions
  • the risk appetite of the bank
  • the remit of the bank and whether this should include housing and schools
  • tackling climate change and nature loss
  • the bank's 'do no harm' requirement
  • government powers to direct the bank's work
  • financial regulation and reviewing the bank's work.

Members speaking

Baroness Penn (Conservative), government whip, opened the debate and responded on behalf of the government.

Members speaking in the debate include:

  • Baroness Boycott (Crossbench), Vice-chair of the Environmental, Social and Governance group
  • Lord Davies of Brixton (Labour), Vice-chair of the Personal Banking and Fairer Financial Services Group
  • Baroness Kramer (Liberal Democrats), Member of the Policy Advisory Board, Social Market Foundation
  • Baroness Noakes (Conservative), Member of the Lords Finance Select Committee.

Find out more about the issues discussed: catch up on Parliament TV or read a transcript in Lords Hansard. 

Image: Pixabay/Albrecht Fietz