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Construction Parliamentary Update

A round up of all the construction news from Westminster over the last seven days

GENERAL

• Deputy Governor of the Bank of England Sir John Gieve announced that he will stand down from the post early in 2009. (19 June)

• Alistair Darling delivered the Chancellor’s annual Mansion House speech against a backdrop of economic turmoil. Mr Darling warned of stagnation, an outlook echoed by Bank of England Governor Mervyn King in a separate speech the next day. (18 June)

• The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) published its business plan for 08/09. (18 June)

• In a major speech, Conservative Leader David Cameron called on business to “wean itself of fossil fuels and go green”. (16 June)

PPP/PFI/FINANCE/PROCUREMENT

• Ian Liddell-Grainger MP initiated an adjournment debate on local government PFI contracts which focused on his criticism of the Southwest One PFI contract with IBM. (17 June)

• Local Government Agency 4Ps and UCL teamed up to offer a course to ‘advance the leadership skills, procurement expertise and commercial awareness of project directors involved in PFI, PPP and other complex projects’. (16 June)

PLANNING

• The Cabinet Office’s Social Exclusion Task Force published Think Research a web-based guide on using research evidence during the planning process. (19 June)

• The Planning and Energy Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Lords. The matter of allowing local councils to set targets for renewable energy, low carbon electricity and energy efficiency standards was discussed during the debate. (16 June)

CONSTRUCTION

• The OFT launched a market study into property management services for common and shared residential property in Scotland. The market study follows evidence submitted to the OFT by the Scottish Consumer Council (SCC), which highlighted potential consumer harm (Press Release). (17 June)

HOUSING AND REGENERATION

• The Commons held a topical debate on building eco-towns. (19 June)

• Karen Buck MP sponsored an EDM on ‘Housing Need’. (19 June)

• The Housing and Regeneration Bill passed through its seventh and eighth day of Committee stage in the Lords. (18 June)

• The Anchor Trust launched 'Anchor 2020: Meeting the challenges of older people's housing and care'. (18 June)

• Northern Ireland Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie visited a newly opened regeneration projects in East Belfast. (18 June)

• English Partnerships said that they were considering new homes, community space and the reinstatement of former allotments as proposals for the former Cashes Green Hospital site in Stroud. (18 June)

• Housing Minister Caroline Flint spoke at a Chartered Institute of Housing conference. Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith also spoke at the conference the following day. (17 June)

• The Welsh deputy minister for regeneration made a statement in the Welsh Assembly. (17 June)

• Labour MP John Trickett began a Westminster Hall debate on the regeneration of Featherstone. (17 June)

• Communities Minister Iain Wright released figures on funding provided to Milton Keynes Unitary Authority from the Decent Homes programme in each of the last 10 years. (17 June)

• Caroline Flint revealed in a written answer that £53,000 has been spent on marketing scheme ‘Can Eco-towns be a Good Housing Solution?’ (17 June)

• Bob Spink MP tabled an EDM entitled ‘Action to stimulate the housing market’. (17 June)

• The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the National Association of Estate Agents and the Association of Residential Letting Agents published Sir Bryan Carsberg's independent report on the private residential property market. The report examined the scope and extent of standards, regulation and redress in the sector, considers the broad implications of the current structures for the property transaction itself. It makes recommendations on future improvements to the system. The British Property Foundation went on the Today Programme to speak about the report. (16 June)

• The think tank New Local Government Network published a report entitled ‘Good House keeping? Stronger communities through local housing intervention’. (14 June)

EDUCATION

• Education Secretary Ed Balls announced that architect Robin Nicholson will chair the Government task force to advise ministers, the Zero Carbon Task Force. He also announced the group's terms of reference. (16 June)

• A BSF contract worth £90 million, awarded to a consortium including Carillion and Ramesys, was signed by Nottingham City Council. (16 June)

TRANSPORT

• Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly announced the 12 English towns that were chosen to promote cycling in a £100 million investment scheme. (19 June)

• The London Local Authorities and Transport for London Bill received its Third Reading in the House of Lords. (19 June)

• MEPs adopted a legislative report on a directive to upgrade road safety management standards. (19 June)

• Transport minister Rosie Winterton spoke at a Local Government Information Unit conference on strategic transport planning. (19 June)

• In an interview with the Financial Times, Shadow Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers expanded on David Cameron’s environment speech earlier this week saying that that the Conservatives could oppose airport expansion in the south east (and particularly at Heathrow) and look at high-speed rail as an alternative to help decrease capacity pressure on aviation. (19 June)

• Transport for London announced it will introduce a new route to replace a section of route 500 when the commercial service south of Ongar is withdrawn by Arriva East Herts and Essex on 5 July 2008. (17 June)

• In the Lords the Crossrail Bill was moved to Committee Stage. (16 June)

WASTE AND UTILITIES

• Lord Jones of Cheltenham asked the Government what they were doing to help local authorities that are running out of landfill space. (18 June)

• MEPs at the European parliament failed to garner support among member states for targets for domestic and commercial rubbish. The British government rejected their plans to curb the mounting rubbish from homes and businesses in the UK and across the continent. (16 June)

OLYMPICS AND 2012

• Confusion arose over the ‘memorandum of understanding’ that was supposedly agreed by Ken Livingstone which apparently sets out London’s obligations should the Olympics go over-budget. Mr. Johnson denied the memorandum existed during the BBC’s Today Programme (19 June)

• Over half of the concrete columns which form the foundations of the Olympic stadium have been installed. (19 June)

POLICE, FIRE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

• The Department of Communities and Local Government confirmed a £27.1million ‘PFI credit boost’ for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service to build or refurbish ten fire stations in the county. (18 June)

DEFENCE

• Defence Minister Derek Twigg revealed in a written answer that the MoD might benefit from the future sale of land at Alconbury airfield, Sculthorpe airfield, Waterbeach, Derwent Forest and Throckmorton airfield. (16 June)

FLOODING

• Communities Minister John Healy spoke about progress in getting people housed after recent floods. He said the operation demonstrated the necessity of insurance and said he supported a wider range of insurance products, as well as urging the public to get flood alerts and fit their homes with flood prevention improvements. (18 June)

• Environment Minister Phil Woolas set out details of the proposed Floods and Water Bill, including a new “overview role” on flooding (inland and coast) for the Environment Agency. Local Authorities will now have complete responsibility for surface water flooding in their communities. Defra is aiming to consult on the Bill in Spring 2009. (17 June)

FUTURE EVENTS

Wednesday 25 June The Lords Treasury Sub Committee holds a hearing scrutinising the ‘Estate Management within the Chancellor’s departments, including the role of PFI. Witnesses are HM Treasury, HM Revenue and Customs and OGC.

Wednesday 25 June Conclusion of the remaining stages of the Planning Bill

Friday 27 June DCLG’s consultation on the Draft Heritage Protection Bill closes.