Author Topic: Osborne: Bold planning decisions needed  (Read 119 times)

Description: new body to plan infrastructure projects will be chaired by former Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis, George Osborne has announced.

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Osborne: Bold planning decisions needed
« on: October 05, 2015, 07:00:58 PM »



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Osborne: Bold planning decisions needed

George Osborne: Labour peer to help 'bold planning decisions'





A new body to plan infrastructure projects will be chaired by former Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis, George Osborne has announced.

The chancellor said Britain was "pretty rubbish" at making decisions on projects and it would be a "disaster" to stop building roads and railways.

At the Tory conference in Manchester, he will pledge an extra £5bn in this Parliament for major schemes.

He has also announced plans to sell shares worth £2bn in Lloyds Bank.

The shares will be sold to private investors next spring.

Lord Adonis, policy chief in Tony Blair's government before becoming transport secretary under Gordon Brown, has resigned the Labour whip and will sit as a crossbencher in the Lords as he takes on his new role.

Lord Adonis said that without "big improvements" in transport and energy "Britain will grind to a halt".

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the move was "a long way from a defection", and that while it was embarrassing for Labour that he was resigning the whip he would remain a party member.


She added it was worth noting Lord Adonis had sat on the review for Labour that effectively set out the blueprint for the independent National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Osborne said the new commission would "shake Britain out of its inertia" on making big decisions.

Tax credits

"Britain has really got to raise its game in getting these big projects under way," he said.

He defended the time taken to reach a decision on airport expansion, saying the Davies Commission - which has backed a third runway at Heathrow - had "forced the choice on the government".

"The choice is now on the desks of ministers," he said, adding that the government would "absolutely" make its final decision by Christmas.

Mr Osborne also defended the government's changes to tax credits after calls from some Conservatives for a rethink, saying a typical family on the minimum wage would be better off.

And he insisted other European leaders were not too preoccupied by the migrant crisis to consider the UK's demands for EU reform ahead of its membership referendum.

"I'm not saying it's the only thing they're thinking about, but they are thinking about it," he added.

'Key' projects

Lord Adonis, a Social Democrat councillor and Liberal Democrat election candidate before joining Labour, 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."


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                    Lord Adonis will become an independent peer to take on his new role



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The NIC will initially focus on London's transport system, connections between cities in the north of England, and updating the energy network - funded by selling off land, buildings and other government assets.

It will start work immediately and will produce a report at the start of each five-year Parliament containing recommendations of projects.

Asked if the new scheme would make it harder for councils and individuals to oppose projects, Mr Osborne told BBC Breakfast there were "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," he added.

Mr Osborne has also announced plans to combine 89 local authority pension funds in England and Wales into six regional funds in the hope it will encourage them to invest in major infrastructure projects.

The chancellor is expected to acknowledge in his speech that the idea for the NIC was first proposed by Labour in its manifesto for May's general election.


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                    The chancellor said Lord Adonis would be working in the "national interest"


An aide to Mr Osborne said: "The chancellor is open to good ideas."

A spokesman for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "We have heard it all before from Osborne and the Conservatives on infrastructure and their record is one of complete failure to deliver.

"There is still nothing to indicate that the Tories understand the desperate need for serious long-term investment in infrastructure - and the real story of their conference remains their attack on working people through the cut on tax credits."

John Cridland, director-general of the CBI business lobby group, said: "Updating the UK's infrastructure is critical to sustainable growth and productivity, and we've long called for an independent body to assess our long-term needs."


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