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New lord will bolster retentions fight

THE SPECIALIST Engineering Contractors Group has recruited a key political ally in its fight against retentions.

Martin O'Neill - soon to become Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan after gaining a peerage - has joined the group's board.

The former Labour MP, who stood down in last month's general election, led two inquiries into retentions in 2002 and 2003 as chairman of the House of Commons trade and industry select committee.

The committee's calls for retentions to be phased out by 2007 as the Government moved towards its targets of zero defects construction work were rejected by civil servants.

SEC Group chief executive Rudi Klein said: 'Martin has taken a very keen interest in the industry and the group and as a very experienced MP he will add a lot of weight to our parliamentary lobbying.We're delighted to have him on board.'

The SEC will also return to 10 Downing Street on June 28 for another meeting with industry policy adviser Geoffrey Norris.

Professor Klein, who also met Mr Norris last year, said: 'This is really a follow-up meeting but we will be looking to press our case on issues like protection for companies in cases of upstream insolvency.'