Chancellor’s infrastructure pledge welcomed

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

Updating infrastructure is key to sustainable growth and productivity: CBI boss John Cridland
Updating infrastructure is key to sustainable growth and productivity: CBI boss John Cridland

Related tags: Conservative party

Chancellor George Osborne’s pledge to upgrade UK infrastructure has been welcomed by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester today (October 5), the chancellor pledged to earmark an extra £5bn in this Parliament for major schemes. He also appointed Labour peer and former transport secretary Lord Adonis to lead a new infrastructure body, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), dedicated to driving improvements.

CBI boss John Cridland said: “Updating the UK's infrastructure is critical to sustainable growth and productivity, and we've long called for an independent body to assess our long-term needs.

‘Commission hit the ground running’

"Businesses will want to see the new infrastructure commission hit the ground running, and top of its national action list should be assessing the Trans-Pennine railway, Crossrail 2, and the Horizon new nuclear plant at Wylfa.”

But the new commission must not duck urgent major infrastructure decisions – particularly on expanding aviation capacity in the South East – said the CBI director-general.

The new NIC was part of government plans to “shake Britain out of its inertia”,​ said Osborne. The commission will focus first on the capital’s transport system, connections between the northern cities, and modernising the energy network, financed by selling off land, buildings and other government assets.

I’m sorry, we didn’t build for you’

Osborne told the conference: “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.’ We have to shake Britain out of its inertia on the projects which matter most.”

Lord Adonis told BBC News: “Without big improvements to its transport and energy systems, Britain will grind to a halt.

“Major infrastructure projects like Crossrail and building major new power stations span governments and Parliaments. I hope it will be possible to forge a wide measure of agreement across society and politics on key infrastructure requirements for the next 20 to 30 years.”

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