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Firms fear delays on Latham

WORK on a construction industry bill to put the recommendations of the Latham review into effect is beginning to slip behind schedule. This could mean the bill may not become law until mid-1997, a year later than planned.

Environment secretary John Gummer told construction industry representatives on Tuesday the government was to press ahead with legislation. Detailed consultation papers on the bill would be published within days.

But Latham supporters fear the task of preparing the bill and the back- up codes of practice is too complex to be completed for the Queens speech in November.

If that happens it could have to wait for a further year before going ahead.

Sources say the government intends the bill to include controversial clauses covering the operation of trust funds to guarantee payments to subcontractors.

Many main contractors strongly dislike the idea, but Mr Gummer has warned the bill will be shelved without industry-wide backing.

Mr Gummer also gave the go-ahead to the Construction Industry Board to implement key Latham proposals.