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Construction Parliamentary Update - 09 October

A round up of all the construction news from Westminster over the last seven days brought to you by the Madano Partnership.

GENERAL

The UK Parliament returned from recess. SNP politician John Mason MP took his seat in the House of Commons following his by-election victory in Glasgow East (Hansard). Sir Igor Judge was introduced as a Baron (Hansard). (06 October)

Liberal Democrat Peer, Lord Thomson of Monifieth died aged 87. He was formerly an MP, Cabinet minister and Chairman of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (Obituary). The former Labour MP, Deputy Chief Whip and Deputy Speaker in the House of Lords Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld died (BBC). (03 – 08 October)

Local Government Minister John Healey announced that the Government were seeking to move the date of next year’s local elections to fall at the same time as the European election (Press Release). The Independent reported that Alistair Campbell will work on the European and local election campaigns next June. (07 October)

Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced a Government reshuffle (Press Release). At Cabinet level the reshuffle was modest but at the wider-ministerial level it was truly extensive. The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform was partially merged with the Department of Environment and Rural Affairs to form a Department for Energy and Climate Change. The former Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett joined the Government to take Housing from Caroline Flint, which is a portfolio that allows her to attend cabinet meetings. Former EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson took the business portfolio (Ministerial Responsibilities). Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly was replaced by former Chief Whip Geoff Hoon. Ian Pearson was later confirmed as Economic and Business Minister as part of the reshuffle (Press Release). Construction is one of the many business sectors he has responsibility for. (03 – 09 October)

The Conservatives performed a limited reshuffle with former Charities Spokesperson Greg Clark becoming DECC spokesperson, while Charles Hendry became Energy Spokesperson and Gregory Barker became Climate Change Spokesperson (Press Release). (06 October)

The Liberal Democrats made a limited reshuffle appointing Alistair Carmichael Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland and Northern Ireland, Tim Farron Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Sarah Teather Shadow Housing Minister, John Thurso Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Teather’s old post), and Steve Webb Shadow Secretary of State for Climate Change and Energy (Press Release). (07 October)

[Madano has produced a comprehensive list of all the Government and Opposition changes which we would be delighted to provide on request].

GENERAL PPP/PFI/FINANCE/PROCUREMENT

English Partnerships NW held a seminar on new developments in the Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment (CLEA) Model. (07 October)

PLANNING

The Planning Bill, which aims streamline the planning process for major infrastructure continued through the detailed scrutiny of Committee Stage in the House of Lords (Hansard; Hansard; Hansard; Hansard; Hansard; Timetable). (06 – 08 October)

The Planning and Energy Bill passed Third Reading in the Lords and returned to the Commons with an amendment (Hansard). (08 October)

Liberal Democrat MP Steve Webb initiated a Westminster Hall Debate on the Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West. (07 October)

The Welsh Assembly Government announced a consultation on proposed changes to land management actions under Axis 2 of the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007 – 2013. The deadline for responses is 19th December (06 October)

The British Property Federation (BPF) welcomed revisions to the planning policy statement (PPS6) on town centre development and investment, replacing the ‘needs test’ with the ‘impact test’ (Press Release). (03 October)

CONSTRUCTION

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published statistics on new construction orders and UK trade. (09 October)

The Welsh Assembly Government published their indexes of production and construction for Wales. (09 October)

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) published their annual utility survey. (09 October)

The CBI held a public forum, looking at young people not in employment, education or training (NEETS). (09 October)

Bill Valentine the Chairman of HOK told the Reuters Global Environment Summit that the economic downturn could spur sustainably designed buildings and communities (Reuters). (09 October)

The winners of the British construction industry awards and the Prime Minister announced that Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital, Brighton won the better public building award (Press Release). (08 October)

The Children, Schools and Families Committee considered the Draft Apprenticeships Bill, taking evidence from the Edge Foundation (Press Release). (08 October)

Innovation, Universities, Science & Skills Sub-Committee took evidence as part of its enquiry ‘After Leitch: Implementing Skills & Training Policies’ from David Lammy MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State + official, Dept for Innovation, Universities & Skills. (08 October)

Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee heard evidence as part of its enquiry into the Draft Apprenticeships Bill. The committee heard evidence from the Alliance of Sector Skills Council, the Federation of Small Businesses (FMB), the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC); the Association of Colleges, the Association of Learning Providers, the Trade Union Congress and the Learning and Skills Council (Press Release). (06 October)

HOUSING AND REGENERATION

Figures from the Halifax showed the slowest drop in house prices for September for seven months with a 1.3% drop. (09 October)

During his speech on labour market issues at the JobcentrePlus national conference in London Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell indicated that the Government would cover the interest of mortgages by up to £175,000 for those made unemployed by the recession (more than the current £100,000). (09 October)

Communities Minister Iain Wright published consultations on proposed measures to tackle rural housing shortages, following Matthew Taylor MP’s report on rural housing. The proposals include measures to create protected areas where home providers retain a share of ownership in homes and get first refusal to buy them back. The consultations close on 31 December (Consultation; Consultation; Press Release). (08 October)

The Department for Communities and Local Government published a new technical guide to the Code for Sustainable Homes and a summary of the changes made since April. (08 October)

4Ps held a conference on the role of local authorities as strategic commissioners. (08 October)

The Welsh Communities and Culture Committee considered the affordable housing task and finish group report and decided it was ‘broadly content’ with the funding settlement (Key Points). (08 October)

Scottish Communities Minister Stewart Maxwell announced homes funding that £4 million would be granted to accelerate site starts on six housing projects in Moray, Dumfries & Galloway, Argyll, the Borders and Fife, and that £5 million will fund land purchase by housing associations to support development in Highland, Midlothian, Argyll, Dumfries & Galloway and South Lanarkshire (Press Release). (07 October)

The London Assembly published a report which said that three million Londoners had poor access to swimming pools (Press Release). (07 October)

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said their quarterly construction market survey showed that new build home numbers could drop below 100 thousand next year and that the Government’s house building targets were probably now out of reach (Press Release). (06 October)

Scottish Communities Minister Stewart Maxwell said that churches’ surplus properties and sites could be used to help provide affordable homes (Press Release). (06 October)

The Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) published statistics on lending to households from 1995 to 2007, including consumer credit, housing and other loans, covering the 27 EU member states, two EU candidate countries (Turkey and Croatia) and five additional key global economies (the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Switzerland and Iceland). (06 October)

Liberal Democrat MP for St. Ives Andrew George initiated an Adjournment Debate on affordable housing and planning (Hansard). (08 October)

The Business and Enterprise Committee held an evidence session in its enquiry ‘The Role of Regional Development Agencies’. The witnesses were British Chambers of Commerce, EEF and CBI; Local Government Association, Essex County Council and Lancashire County Council. (07 October)

Plymouth Labour MP Linda Gilroy initiated a Westminster Hall Debate about housing in Plymouth. (07 October)

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) published its UK construction market survey. The survey suggested that new home build could drop below 100,000 next year (Press Release). (06 October)

Conservative MP David Amess initiated an Adjournment Debate on the regeneration of Southend (Hansard). (06 October)

EDUCATION

The Departure of Lord Adonis from his education portfolio caused some visible consternation over the future of the academies programme, but the Government sought to allay fears that there would be any change in direction in the Government’s thinking on the issue (Financial Times). (07 October)

TRANSPORT

Transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick spoke to a Transport Times conference looking at a road safety strategy beyond 2010. (08 October)

London Mayor Boris Johnson held a press conference in Bexley where he announced there would be an increase in transport policing teams (Press Release). (08 October)

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) held two 24-hour walkouts in Scotland (Press Release). (07 October)

The Adam Smith Institute hosted a ‘power lunch’ with Shadow Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers. (07 October)

Lord Dubs initiated a debate by asking the Government “what steps they intend to take regarding the efficiency and effectiveness of Network Rail?” (06 October)

Network Rail’s Chief Executive Sir Ian McAllister announced he would step down in July 2009 (Press Release). (03 October)

OLYMPICS AND 2012

The London Development Agency (LDA) held a question and answer session with the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) (Press Release). (08 October)

London Mayor Boris Johnson said that the London 2012 Olympics would be “more friendly, more intimate affair” in comparison to the Beijing Games (Independent). (07 October)

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee held a hearing as part of its enquiry on the London 2012 Games with Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, the London Development Agency, the British Olympic Association and Tim Brabants, Olympic athlete. (07 October)

Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell answered questions in Parliament. Discussions touched on landscaping and the legacy for the North West (Hansard; Hansard). (06 October)

FLOODING

Environment and Rural Affairs Secretary Hilary Benn updated Parliament in a Written Ministerial Statement on the Government’s action on the North East flooding at the beginning of September. (07 October)

River banks burst, causing floods in Wales and East Anglia (Guardian). (04 October)

WASTE AND UTILITIES

More than 4,500 people near Peterhead Aberdeenshire signed a petition against a waste plant being developed by Buchan Combined Heat and Power Ltd that cited health risks (Guardian). (06 October)

FUTURE EVENTS

Friday 10 October

Deadline for responses to CABE’s consultation on voluntary minimum standards for housing development in the Thames Gateway.

The Welsh Assembly’s consultation on meeting housing needs in rural areas closes.

The Scottish consultation on the European Directive on award procedure for public contracts ends.

Friday 10 – Saturday 11 October TES Education 2008.

Monday 13 October

Deadline for submissions to the All Party Urban Development Group’s inquiry into ‘Creating long-lasting jobs through regeneration’.

Tuesday 14 October

NLGN holds its LAA success event

Wednesday 15 October

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee holds an evidence session into its Waste Strategy for England 2007 enquiry. Witnesses include the Environment Agency, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP)

The Construction Confederation’s annual Housing Market Intelligence conference.

Thursday 16 October

Westminster Briefing hosts its yearly Social Housing Conference

Friday 17 October

Deadline for submissions to the Scottish Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee’s inquiry into high speed rail links.