Liberal Democrat peer and ICE member Lord Chidgey asked the following question of the government: "What is their response to the assessment in the Institution of Civil Engineers' report The State of the Nation: Capacity and Skills of the impact of the shortfall in capacity and skills on the gap between projected and actual construction costs."
In response, Labour House of Lords whip Lord Bach said, "The Government support the drive to encourage students to take up engineering careers, working with the sector skills councils and professional institutions.
"Programmes include Science and Engineering Ambassadors, the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology and other activities. The Office of Government Commerce has established systems providing information about future government demand and the interrelationship of major programmes. Departments undertake assessments of demand and capacity to inform their budget decisions and their risk analyses."
Baroness Platt of Writtle asked a further question, about whether the government supports the WISE (Women Into Science, Engineering and Construction) programme. Lord Bach replied: "We certainly do need many more scientists and engineers.
"One rather depressing figure is that women currently make up only 10% of those going into civil engineering whereas they make up 49% of the workforce. The Government are working very hard, with help from organisations such as ICE, to try to break that particular tradition."
Another question from Lord Broers, another ICE member, asked, "Does the Minister think it would be a good thing for the Government to turn more to the learned bodies—the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the institutions—when matters of science and technology face the nation, to get the collective wisdom of the nation's experts rather than turning to individuals to prepare these reports?"
Lord Bach replied that he did, "not disagree with anything that he said."