Labour peer named to head UK infrastructure body

5th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

Britain's Conservative Party was to announce Monday that Andrew Adonis, a Labour peer and close ally of former prime minister Tony Blair, will chair a new infrastructure planning body.

Adonis, who was policy chief in Blair's government and transport secretary under Gordon Brown, will no longer sit with Labour in the House of Lords, although he retains his membership of the party.

Osborne was to tell the annual conference of the ruling Tories that Adonis will be working in the "national interest" by chairing the National Infrastructure Commission, according to released remarks.

The body will plan projects such as rail links and power stations.

"We have to shake Britain out of its inertia on the projects that matter most," Osborne was to tell the conference.

Adonis was to add: "I am pleased to accept the chancellor's invitation to establish the National Infrastructure Commission as an independent body able to advise government and parliament on priorities.

"Without big improvements to its transport and energy systems, Britain will grind to a halt."

The idea of an 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.

© 2015 AFP

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