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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Labour sets out 'ambitious' plan for UK infrastructure

Labour will today set out, what the party is calling, an ambitious vision for Britain’s infrastructure at a major conference to discuss the country’s long-term infrastructure needs. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls will announce that legislation to set up an independent National Infrastructure Commission, which will stop long-term decisions being kicked into the long grass, will be in Labour’s first Queen’s Speech after the election. A draft Bill has already been published to ensure that the plans can be fast-tracked through Parliament this year.

The Shadow Chancellor will also publish for consultation a draft remit for the new Commission which sets out 10 National Infrastructure Goals which Britain should achieve over the coming decades. A National Infrastructure Commission was first proposed in a report commissioned by Labour and written by Sir John Armitt, the former Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority. Sir John will set out more details of his proposals, which Labour has pledged to implement, at today’s conference which will be attended by business and industry representatives.

The Commission, whose Chair will be appointed on a cross-party basis, will ensure Britain is able to better identify, plan and deliver infrastructure for future generations.

Speaking at the UK Infrastructure Conference, Ed Balls MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, will say: "For too long successive governments have ducked and delayed the vital decisions we need to take for the long term. As a country we have got to stop kicking big decisions into the long grass. So in our first Queen’s Speech after the election we will act. We will establish an independent National Infrastructure Commission to identify our long-term infrastructure needs, from energy to flood defences and transport."

Continuing Mr Balls will say: "The Commission will then ensure government comes up with credible plans to meet them – and hold Ministers’ feet to the fire to deliver those plans. We need an ambitious vision to ensure Britain has a transport network that spreads prosperity to every part of the country, is the best place in the world to do scientific research and meets the challenge of climate change. Infrastructure investment is vital to boosting growth and productivity in a way which raises living standards for the many, not just a few at the top. That’s why it is a key part of Labour’s economic plan."