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I had not realised until I read your news article 'Forget ination, Hodge demands' (NCE 7 September), that we had acquired a new construction minister by the name of Margaret Hodge in the government refishufe in June.

It is a measure of this government's contempt for, and low regard of, our industry that it has appointed someone with no knowledge whatever of it. The measure reduces even further when one considers this lady's dismal record in anything to do with administrative achievement. One could regard her as a total failure.

Furthermore, in the comment: 'Ination costs come from people', she proved her total ignorance of the real world. She has obviously never heard of the enormous worldfiwide rise in the cost of energy, raw materials and transport during the past couple of years, nor of the additional financial burdens put upon industry at large.

Hats off, therefore, to the Civil Engineering Contractors Association that had the courage to give the lie to the government's constantly reiterated 2% ination rate. Anybody who ever buys anything other than a pint of milk knows that the cost of materials and services, not to mention labour, increases at rates that are a multiple of this deliberate misrepresentation.

John HW Barry (retd M), jandsbarry@onetel. com

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