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Construction Parliamentary Update - 27 March 2009

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

GENERAL

The Scottish Parliament was asked to approve the nomination of Jim Martin as the new Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (Press Release). (25 March)

Tom Scholar was appointed as Second Permanent Secretary, International and Finance directorate, HM Treasury by the Prime Minister on the recommendation of the Chancellor (Press Release). (23 March)

The outlook for fiscal policy and a potential second fiscal stimulus was questioned again following the revelation that borrowing for the financial year increased to £75 billion after a reduction in tax revenues. (The Times). (20 March)

GENERAL PPP/PFI
Charles Lloyd, who has just begun a secondment to the Treasury from PWC will undertake a six-month assessment to examine the future of PFI in general (The Independent). (20 March)

PLANNING
Communities and Local Government Committee published their report on the appointment of the chair of the Infrastructure Planning Commission, approving Sir Michael Pitt’s appointment. (23 March)

CONSTRUCTION
The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill went through the second day of report stage in the House of Lords (Hansard). (24 March)

The Scottish Cross Party Group for Construction held a meeting on the construction industry in Scotland. (25 March)

Labour MP Michael Clapham initiated an adjournment debate on blacklisting practices in the construction industry (Hansard). (23 March)

REGENERATION
Housing Minister Margaret Beckett MP delivered a speech on maximising land-use in cities at the CABE and Natural England’s Park City conference strategic thinking on regeneration. (24 March)

HOUSING
The Communities and Local Government published the Governments response to the Matthew Taylor review of Rural Affordable Housing and Economy (Report). (25 March)

The Financial Times reported that Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) viability study had questioned the financial prospects of the government’s plans for ten eco-towns if they did not receive further public subsidy. (25 March)

EDUCATION
Yvette Cooper, Housing Minister was questioned on the failures of Learning and Skills Council (Hansard). (26 March)

Peers debated Sir Andrew Foster’s review of the Building Colleges for the Future programme discussing potential delays. (Hansard). (26 March)

Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh initiated a Westminster Hall Debate on Building Colleges for the Future. (25 March)

The Scottish Government heralded a funding increase of £20 million to be spent on Scotland’s colleges and universities for 2009 and 2010. The funding increase is part of existing support for capital investment to support Scotland’s economy (Press Release). (23 March)

The Learning and Skills Council’s (LSC Chief Executive Mark Haysom resigned following failures in the further education capital programme. Geoff Russell, formerly of KPMG, has been appointed as Acting Chief Executive of the LSC (Press Release). Liberal Democrat Shadow Innovation, Universities and Skills Secretary, Stephen Williams criticised the programme and said that “it is right that Mr Haysom takes responsibility. However, The Government must not use the resignation to duck blame for college building fiasco” (Press Release). (23 March)

HEALTH
Ben Bradshaw, Health Minister was questioned in the Commons on safeguarding infrastructure investment in relation to private finance initiative projects (Hansard) (24 March)

TRANSPORT
Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon announced the appointment of Anna Walker as the new Chairman elect of the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) (Press Release). (26 March)

Lord Tanlaw held a Grand Committee debate on what consideration the government has given to railway bonds to secure funding for planned rail-related infrastructure (Hansard) (26 March)

The Scottish Public Audit Committee held an evidence session on the Auditor General for Scotland’s report entitled “The First ScotRail rail passenger franchise”. (25 March)

Transport Minister Lord Adonis, gave a speech at the Transport Times conference on high-speed rail. (25 March)

Network Rail confirmed the appointment of its future Chairman, Rick Haythornthwaite. Mr Haythornthwaite will take up his position as chairman in July when Sir Ian McAllister steps down at the company’s AGM (Press Release). (23 March)

The Highways Agency published its annual Business Plan report for 2009-10. The report describes how the agency plans to improve England’s strategic road network (Press Release). (20 March)

FLOODING
Lord Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency, spoke at a Local Government Information Unit event on floods. (26 March)

WASTE AND UTILITIES
Treasury Exchequer Secretary Angela Eagle was questioned in the House of Commons on Waste Disposal (Hansard). (26 March)

Environment and Rural Affairs Secretary Hilary Benn announced the rollout of the government’s planned efficiency and waste ‘one stop shop’ which will be administered by a coalition of bodies led by WRAP (Press Release; Press Release; Hansard). (25 March)

POLICE, FIRE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE
A policy report entitled ‘Locked up Potential’ was published by the Prison Reform Working Group. The Centre for Social Justice think tank chaired by former Conservative cabinet minister Johnathan Aitken, urged the Government to scrap the £1.3 billion Titan prison building programme and build smaller prisons (Press Release). (24 March)

FUTURE EVENTS

Friday 27 March 2009

Defra’s consultation on a National Flood Emergency Framework closes
Shelter and local council conference on how to tackle the housing crisis

Monday 30 March 2009

RICS event on value and green buildings

Tuesday 31st March 2009

Centre Forum event ‘Does Heathrow need a new airport?’ at House of Commons

Tuesday 31 March - Wednesday 1 April 2009

Regeneration & Renewal’s National conference on laying the foundation for recovery.

Thursday 02 April 2009

Commons Efra Questions