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Construction Parliamentary Update - 19 June 2009

A round up of all the construction news from Westminster this week brought to you by the Madano Partnership.

GENERAL PPP/PFI
The National Audit Office (NAO) publised the `work in progress: HMRC’s estates PFI deal eight years on` report. (18 June)

PLANNING
Housing Minister John Healey gave a speech to the Royal Town and Planning Institute in London outlining action to help developers during downturn and to build greener buildings. (18 June)

The Sustainable Development Commission published Scotland Paper supporting evidence to the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change (TICC) Committee on the National Planning Framework. (17 June)

CONSTRUCTION
The Commons committee on the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill committee met on Tuesday and Thursday to consider the Bill. (18 June)

London Deputy Mayor Sir Simon Milton, Treasury minister Lord Myners, Former Cabinet minister Michael Portillo, RBS boss Stephen Hester gave speeches at the British Property Federation’s (BPF) annual conference. The BPF also set out its plans for keeping retail and business occupier’s afloat, kick-starting construction and unfreezing the debt markets. (16 June)

Lord Harries of Pentregarth questioned the Environment Minister Lord Davies in the Lords as to whether, in the light of the report by the Ecumenical Committee for Corporate Responsibility, Vulnerable Migrant Workers: The Responsibility of Business, the remit of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority will be extended. Lord Davies confirmed that the Government concluded that the way forward was to prioritise effective enforcement of the existing law, not to introduce new regulation (Hansard). (16 June)

Alan Ritchie was re-elected as General Secretary of construction union UCATT (Press Release). (16 June)

The Government was defeated in the Lords when the Conservative amendment to the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill was carried (Hansard) (16 June)

The Construction Products Association’s ‘Achievable Targets 2009/10 is the Government delivering’ report was launched at a meeting of the all-party parliamentary study group for construction (Press Release). (16 June)

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published additional data on new orders in the construction industry. (18 June)

REGENERATION
The Local Government and Communities Committee considered the town centre regeneration fund. Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil announced a significant response of 133 bids had been received for a share of the £60 million town centre regeneration fund totalling applications worth £125 million (Press Release). (17 June)

HOUSING
Gross mortgage lending totalled an estimated £10.3 billion in May, a 2% decline from the £10.5 billion in April and down 58% from May 2008, according to new data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) (Press Release). (18 June)

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liam Byrne MP, gave evidence to the House of Lords Committee on the Barnett Formula. Mr Mark Parkinson, Devolution Branch Head in DCU and Ms Helene Radcliffe, Team Leader in DCU, HM Treasury also attended. (17 June)

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) held its annual conference in Harrogate. Homes and Communities Agency Chief Sir Bob Kerslake announced he was setting up a new Housing Finance Group to help find new sources of private sector funding and said that “more needs to be done on private housebuilding” (Press Release). (16 - 18 June)

EDUCATION
A report by the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI), `Making the grade: Transforming education through Building Schools for the Future` said the BSF programme was improving and beginning to positively impact pupuls. Partnership for Schools (PfS) welcomed the report (Press Release). (18 June)

The Scottish Parliament held a debate on the School Building Programme. Scottish Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced in the Scottish Parliament that £1.25 billion is to be invested through the Scottish Futures Trust in new schools across Scotland. £800 million will be directly invested in new school buildings across the country as phase 1 of Scottish Government efforts to lift thousands of children out of crumbling schools (Press Release). (17 June)

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) announced that Partnerships for Schools (PfS) is to take over the management and delivery of all school building and refurbishment programmes from 1st October 2009 (Press Release). (16 June)

Schools Secretary Ed Balls was questioned in the Commons on the expenditure on school buildings for 2009-10. He said that a total of £939 million in school capital funding allocations to schools and to 121 local authorities is being brought forward from 2010-11 to 2009-10 to be spent on school buildings and other capital items, and to get contracts for local small businesses (Hansard). The Financial Times reported a rift between Mr Balls’ department and the Treasury after Mr Balls claimed Labour could increase spending on health and education in real terms after 2011. (15 June)

HEALTH
The Department of Health published a guidance note warning NHS Trusts against going for lowest price tendering and urging them to continue to use the ProCure21 framework following the NHS Trusts questioning of the use of ProCure21 contractors to deliver their schemes as the recession bites (Contract Journal). (12 June)

Laing O’Rourke Construction topped out the first NHS hospital in England to consist entirely of single room accommodation. The £225 million project will see a 512-bed hospital built on the site of the existing Pembury Hospital outside Tunbridge Wells (Construction News). (12 June)

TRANSPORT
Transport Minister Sadiq Khan attended an Institute of Highways and Transportation event in London. (18 June)

The Commons Transport committee held an evidence session on the future of aviation and rail fares and franchises with the Sustainable Development Commission, WWF-UK, Aviation Environment Federation, and Brian Ross, Aviation Economics Adviser and Rt Hon Lord Adonis, Secretary of State, Department for Transport as witnesses. (17 June)

The Business Rate Supplements Bill will be returned to the Lords after the Government motion was carried to reverse their defeat in the Lords where the Lords tried to prevent councils imposing backdated additions to the business rate (Hansard; Lords Third Reading Debate). (17 June)

Crossrail Ltd appointed David Bennett, currently Deputy Crossrail Project Representative to the new position of Implementation Director (Press Release). (15 June)

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) published a report called ‘Connecting communities - Expanding access to the rail network’ that said train operators proposed a £500 million expansion of the UK rail network creating 14 news lines and up to 40 new stations (Press Release). (15 June)

London Mayor Boris Johnson attended a meeting of the all-party parliamentary Crossrail group. (15 June)

Conservative MP for Windsor Adam Afriyie introduced a debate in Westminster Hall on the future of Heathrow airport expansion (Hansard). (16 June)

OLYMPICS AND 2012
Conservative MP Lord Coe held a debate on the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London. (18 June)

FLOODING
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee heard an evidence session on the Ofwat’s Price Review 2009 and the Draft Flood and Water Management Bill with Huw Irranca-Davies MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Defra. (17 June)

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published initial review of the implementation of Planning Policy Statement 25: Development and Flood Risk. (15 June)

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee heard an evidence session on the Ofwat’s Price Review 2009 and the Draft Flood and Water Management Bill with Gloucestershire County Council, Hull City Council, and Suffolk Coastal District Council. (15 June)

WASTE AND UTILITIES
The Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee heard an evidence session on the future of Britain’s electricity networks with Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change as witness. (17 June)

A waste management partnership between local authority’s in the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire areas was awarded £129.1 million worth of PFI credits to help divert up to 427,000 tonnes of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) from landfill per annum by 2020 (Press Release). (12 June)

FUTURE EVENTS

Friday 19 June 2009
DCLG’s consultation on the Pre-Application Consultation and Application Procedures for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects closes

Sunday 21 June 2009
Commons Speaker Michael Martin steps down

Monday 22 June 2009
NAO Private Finance conference 2009

Tuesday 23 June 2009
Seminar A green, pleasant, home-owning land?
Designing to the new part L with Pilkington Building Products UK online seminar
Housing and planning delivery grant (HPDG): consultation on allocation mechanism for Year 2 and Year 3 closes

Wednesday 24 June 2009
CBI Property Breakfast Series
Conference on Zero Carbon Homes & Non-Domestic Buildings
Scottish Government consultation on the Scottish Planning Policy closes
NLGN and LGC conference: Economic Development and Regeneration
ICE breakfast launch of State of the Nation: Defending Critical Infrastructure report

Wed 24 - Thu 25 Jun 2009
PPP in Europe Conference
IEA conference on the future of rail

Thursday 25 June 2009
Consultation on proposed changes to the Local Authority building control charging regime

Friday 22 June 2009
NEW! Second reading of the airport expansion bill