Labour vows to fast-track National Infrastructure Commission through Parliament this year


Labour has pledged to ‘fast-track’ establishment of a National Infrastructure Commission if it takes power following May’s General Election.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls will today confirm legislation to set up an independent committee tasked with identifying and delivering infrastructure projects would be contained in Labour’s first Queen’s Speech after the election.

A draft bill containing the measure has already been published in a bid to see the plans fast-tracked through Parliament this year.

Mr Balls will today 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.

‘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.’

The shadow chancellor is due to publish put out to consultation a draft remit for the commission, which will establish 10 national infrastructure goals for Britain to achieve.

One of the targets could be to ensure housing investment is ‘integrated with investment in transport and utilities’, while ensuring ‘enabling infrastructure’ is in place to support rapid residential development.

The plans were welcomed by Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, who said she was ‘delighted to see that Labour would like to see housing recognised as nationally significant infrastructure’.

Plans for a National Infrastructure Commission were first proposed in a Labour commissioned report from Sir John Armitt, former chair of the Olympic Delivery Authority.

Mr Balls added: ‘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.’

Ms Leech added: ‘If we are to deliver housing at scale at the same time as creating commercial hubs that will drive economic growth, we need to encourage the development of well-connected, mixed-use communities where people can both live and work.’

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