HC Deb 27 January 1993 vol 217 cc757-8W
14. Mr. Redmond

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussions he has had with representatives of the construction industry as to possible changes in the present system of holding retention moneys; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Baldry

I have had no discussions about the general system of retention money. I am aware of concerns about this matter and welcome moves within the industry to examine alternatives. This is one of the matters that we expect to be considered in the proposed joint Government-industry review of contracting and procurement arrangements in the construction industry.

Sir Michael Neubert

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of increased activity in the housing and construction industry following the Chancellor of the Exchequer's autumn statement.

Sir George Young

Depending on the way local authorities spend the funds available, and the extent of the private sector funding attracted, we estimate that the additional spending generated by the autumn statement could generate between 40,000 and 90,000 employees years of employment in the construction industry in 1993–94.

We also estimate that the 1 per cent. cut in interest rates announced in the statement could result in an increase of 1 per cent. in construction output on all private works. In the short-term, with interest rates at their lowest since 1978, this will mainly benefit the housing sector.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement outlining those steps which have been taken by his Department since 9 April 1992 specifically to assist the United Kingdom construction industry; and what future action he intends to take to assist the construction industry.

Mr. Baldry

[holding answer 26 January 1993]: During this year's public expenditure round my Department was active in making the case for maintaining capital spending and infrastructure spending. Measures which will assist the industry include: £750 million to support the Housing Corporation £1.75 billion of spending from local authority capital receipts retention of provision for the Jubilee line extension relaxation of the rules for private and joint financing of infrastructure and other projects a capital partnership scheme to assist local authorities in levering private sector contributions to projects special tax and capital allowances

We have supported export efforts by the industry. Ministers led trade delegations to Indonesia and Vietnam. We have worked with industry and the DTI to support building material task forces for specific countries.

We have maintained an active research programme and increased industry collaboration during the year. We have established working groups with the industry to improve knowledge and understanding of new legislative developments—here and in the European Community. We have established an advisory committee to improve the coverage of construction statistics and the use made of them.

We have continued to advance the interest of building material producers in the development of the Construction Products Directive and other associated European standards.

We have introduced new building regulations which reduce the regulatory burden on the industry while giving greater flexibility for designers.

I have also established a fortnightly series of meetings at which representatives of the industry can put to me any matters of concern to them.

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