Former Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis is to chair an independent panel designed to take the politics out of infrastructure planning.
Chancellor George Osborne announced plansfor the Adonis-chaired National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester last week.
The commission has been tasked with delivering a 30-year plan as well as setting out at the start of each parliament what a government is expected to do over the following five years.
Osborne said: “The NIC will calmly and dispassionately assess the future infrastructure needs of the country and it will hold any government’s feet to the fire if it fails to deliver.
“I am delighted that the former cabinet minister and transport secretary Andrew Adonis has agreed to be the commission’s first chair and help us create Britain’s plan for the future.”
Adonis said: “Without big improvements to its transport and energy systems, Britain will grind to a halt. I look forward to establishing the NIC as an independent body able to advise government and Parliament on priorities.
“Major infrastructure projects like Crossrail and 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 and the assessments which have underpinned them.”
He added: “I will sit on the crossbenches in the House of Lords while chairing the NIC, to underpin its independent status.”
The commission was created with immediate effect on an interim basis. The government said it would later be put into statute.
The chancellor will appoint a chief executive and a small number of other board members to assist Adonis. Ultimately the commission is expected to employ about 30 people.
The government said the commission’s initial focus would be on:
- Connectivity of the northern cities, including High Speed 3
- London’s public transport infrastructure
- Energy infrastructure
The Commission will publish advice to the government on these issues before next year’s Budget.
The Treasury said the government would be obliged to respond to the commission’s recommendations, either accepting them or setting out alternatives. Parliament’s role in the approval of planning policy will be unchanged.
Adonis will work four days a week, being paid at the starting-point of the permanent secretary salary scale, adjusted pro-rata.