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Construction Industry

Volume 534: debated on Thursday 27 October 2011

The Government are acting positively to strengthen the industry by reform the planning system, modernising public sector procurement, and producing the first national infrastructure plan, which will unlock up to £200 billion of both public and private investment.

Can we return to planet Earth? Since the election 65,000 jobs have gone in construction, no one is training apprentices, and public sector contracts have dried up. Do we not need a bit more action?

It is nice to have the hon. Gentleman back on planet Earth. It appears that he has been away from it for a long time. We have heard about the work that the Government are doing on apprenticeships, we have seen the investment in infrastructure, and there is a positive story to tell. Why cannot the Labour party understand that?

Very much on planet Earth, there are many sites that are not being developed but could be. Will the Minister talk to his colleagues in the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Treasury to ensure that financial incentives are offered to the owners of sterile land so that it can return to use and be developed, thus providing jobs in the construction industry?

My right hon. Friend has made an eminently sensible suggestion. This is why we are adopting a positive approach, and trying to ensure that when Departments have redundant land, we can return it to use.

Britain’s construction industry needs a lion at the wheel, but instead we have a tortoise that is sitting still while building sites and people in our construction industry are made redundant. However, there is an alternative. The shadow Chancellor’s five-point plan will produce projects that will enable us to get the industry moving. For instance, a VAT cut to 5% on home improvements and repairs and maintenance is a targeted approach that is supported by the Federation of Small Businesses. Will the Government take serious action to get the construction industry moving?