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Civil Engineering (Pre-Contract Delays)

Volume 13: debated on Monday 23 November 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he has considered the recent recommendations on pre-contract delays in civil engineering projects concerning the energy industries in the report of the Construction Industry Research and Information Association; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has recently received a copy of the report and will be consulting my right hon. Friend on those parts relating to the energy industries.

Is the Minister aware that the civil engineers' report makes it quite clear that both taxpayers and customers of the energy industries suffer from the erratic "stop-go" in capital projects in those industries? Is he aware that specialist skills in teams that it has taken a long time to build up and which have expensive equipment are left stranded for months and that eventually the cost to the taxpayer is bound to be substantially greater than it need be?

The hon. Gentleman makes a legitimate point. I am sure that he will agree that the report goes into considerable depth and that it will take some time to consider it. However, in due course the aspects relating to energy will be considered by my Department.

When my hon. Friend is looking at the report will he ask his advisers to show him the report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, prepared for the Federation of Civil Engineers, which shows that of all public sector investment, that in civil engineering is likely to be the most productive?

I give my hon. Friend an undertaking that we shall look at any report that may be helpful when we are making our examination.