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Lord Adonis to lead national infrastructure commission as George Osborne announces £5bn project boost

Chancellor George Osborne has launched a new infrastructure commission to be led by former Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis.

The new body will be unveiled in Mr Osborne’s speech to the Conservative Party conference today, in which he is also expected to announce an extra £5bn of funding for major projects.

The commission will produce a report at the start of each five-year parliament offering recommendations for priority projects.

It will focus initially on London’s transport system, connections between cities in the North of England, and updating the energy network including nuclear new builds.

Mr Osborne told the BBC: “This is about Britain making the bold decisions to provide security and jobs for the next generation; to make sure we have the railways, the roads and the runways that are going to power the economy going forward.

“We have made a start now and there is a lot of road building and railway work that is going ahead, but I want to continue that with this new independent infrastructure commission.”

The plans are similar to a pre-election Labour proposal to introduce an infrastructure commission in line with a report from former Olympic Delivery Authority chair Sir John Armitt.

Mr Osborne added: “You can’t get agreement on these things if you do it as just a Conservative Party or a Labour Party so I have tried to create a cross-party consensus and I have got an independent chair now in Andrew Adonis.”

Lord Adonis said: “Without big improvements to its transport and energy systems, Britain will grind to a halt.

“Major infrastructure projects like Crossrail and building major new power stations span governments and parliaments.

“I hope it will be possible to forge a wide measure of agreement across society and politics on key infrastructure requirements for the next 20 to 30 years.”

Lord Adonis, who sat on the committee for Labour that set out the initial blueprint for the NIC, will now resign as Labour Party whip and instead sit as crossbencher in the House of Lords.

The £5bn extra spending pledged by the chancellor will be funded through the sale of land, buildings and other state assets, Mr Osborne said.

The government also plans to combine 89 local authority pension funds in England and Wales into six regional funds to help encourage them to invest in infrastructure projects.

Answering a question on whether the new commission would make it harder for councils and residents to block planned projects, Mr Osborne said: “There are always going to be people who don’t like new building, don’t like new roads, don’t like new railways near them.

“But the truth is if we hadn’t built railways in the past, or motorways in the past, that would have been a disaster for this country, and it would be a disaster for this country if we stop building now.”

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