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10Feb94 UK: JACKERS JOURNAL - GUMMER GOBSMACKED.

The industry finally managed to present its considered thoughts on the state of the construction market to environment secretary John Gummer last week.'Finally' because Sir Brian Hill and Ian Dixon's original meeting with him last month was abruptly postponed when prime minister John Major called the whole cabinet in to fire fight the 'back to basics' controversy.Anyway, having finally met with the industry chiefs, Mr Gummer is deeply impressed with their State of the Construction Industry report, from the catchily-named Consultative Committee on Construction Industry Statistics.How do I know? Well, he said, in his post-briefing press release: 'A modest increase in the overall volume of output is expected, but the timing and strength of the recovery are uncertain.'Which might count as a profound insight, except that this paragraph is word-for-word the same as one in the document's own summary.Mr Gummer also thinks: 'In the longer term, much will depend on the extent to which the private finance initiative can lever funds into this market', which is the view also expressed, in the same words, in the summary.But, strange to relate, there is one part of the summary which Mr Gummer has not seen fit to parrot in his words of wisdom. It is the bit which warns that tax rises may hit the tottering housing market. On this Mr Gummer is oddly silent. CONSTRUCTION NEWS