Britain's Osborne announces shake-up of infrastructure

4th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

British finance minister George Osborne is to announce a new cross-party body to reform and speed up planning of major infrastructure projects such as rail links and power stations on Monday.

"We have to shake Britain out of its inertia on the projects that matter most," Osborne is to tell the annual conference of the ruling Conservative party of Prime Minister David Cameron, according to released remarks.

The new National Infrastructure Commission will be chaired by a peer from the opposition Labour party, Andrew Adonis, Osborne will announce.

The idea of a infrastructure commission with cross-party support was proposed by the Labour party earlier this year in its campaign for the May general election, at which it suffered a bruising defeat to the Conservatives.

The commission will be independent from government, and advise on what infrastructure should be developed during each government's five year term, a statement from the Conservative party said.

It will start by advising on developing Britain's power system and plan transport connections between cities in the north of England, which Osborne has vowed to develop as an economic hub.

"Where would Britain be if we had never built railways or runways, power stations or new homes? Where will we be in the future if we stop building them now?" Osborne is expected to say.

"I'm not prepared to turn round to my children -- or indeed anyone else's child -- and say: I'm sorry, we didn't build for you."

The government plans to increase investment by up to £5 billion ($7.6 billion, 6.7 billion euros) over its five years in parliament, and ease building rules for brownfield sites, the statement said.

In addition, Britain's 89 local authority pension funds are to be pooled into six British Wealth Funds to save in management fees and allow for more investment in infrastructure.

A member of Britain's House of Lords and a former transport secretary, Adonis will stop following the Labour party line and sit as an independent after taking up the position as National Infrastructure Commission chair.

© 2015 AFP

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