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Industry bodies support retentions bill delay


Industry associations backed a two month delay to the second House of Commons reading of the construction retentions bill, calling it a “strategic move”.

The private members bill – known as the Aldous Bill after its founder Peter Aldous MP – proposes a compulsory retentions deposit scheme to protect suppliers from potential insolvencies further up the chain.

It was due to be heard in Parliament today, but the second reading will now take place on 15 June after a last-minute delay.

A spokesman for the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) – one of the key trade groups leading the campaign – described the postponement as a “shrewd strategic move”.

The busy parliamentary schedule on Friday time meant that could have run out before the bill was heard, he said. He added that the two extra months would give the campaign more time to drum up support. A full statement will be released on Monday.

Specialist Engineering Contractors Group chief executive Rudi Klein told New Civil Engineer that the government must publicly announce full support for the bill.

Campaigners are still waiting for a response from business secretary Greg Clark on the reforms after writing to him at the beginning of the month.

“Now they’ve got a bit more time to consider their position, because if the government give their support it is more likely that the bill will go through,” Klein said.

He added that the extra time would allow the details of the deposit protection scheme to be drawn up. 

The bill’s momentum has grown following the collapse of Carillion, and has continued to pick up pace in recent weeks as more than 100 MPs, including defence secretary Gavin Williamson, shadow chancellor John McDonnell, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas backed it.

Industry leaders, representing 333,000 companies, presented a petition advocating fair payment and retentions reform to 10 Downing Street three days before the scheduled House of Commons second reading date. 

The government announced measures designed to protect the supply chain from poor payment practices following Carillion’s collapse into liquidation. The package included the announcement that contractors unable to demonstrate “fair and effective” payment practices would be excluded from major government procurement processes. 


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