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MPs back chief construction officer post for Parliament

A Commons select committee today recommended the creation of new Government post for a chief construction officer, who will champion the concerns of the industry in Parliament.

In a report issued by the Business and Enterprise select committee today, it is claimed that the holder of a single senior-level post should have operational involvement in policy and regulatory issues, and serve as the liaison between government and the industry.

The "Construction Matters" report, to which NCE contributed evidence, also highlighted the Government's own failings regarding procurement methods, including a lack of resources dedicated to ensuring best practice is implemented.

Select committee chairman Peter Luff said: "We need to take action to address the issues identified in this report, irrespective of the business climate in which the industry is operating. We agree with the industry that coordination on policy between the many government departments that engage with and impact upon this vital industry is patchy and ineffective."

He continued: "We believe that the appointment of a chief construction officer would provide a single point of engagement between the industry and the public sector and so give this vital industry a stronger and clearer presence in government."

The proposal was warmly received by the Construction Products Association (CPA), who hailed the plan as "a major step forward" in co-coordinating the Government’s relationship with the industry.

However, CPA chief executive Michael Ankers added: "It is equally important that the any appointee has both credibility and influence, not only with Government but across the industry."

The report also attacks the lack of action within industry firms on skills training, labelling the current situation where only a quarter of construction companies are training apprentices "a disgrace".

And it urges wider industry involvement in the 2012 Olympics construction programme, saying: "We are disappointed that the construction industry itself has not been more enthusiastic in bidding for the main Olympic contracts, and we hope the ODA will have a better response for its remaining construction contracts."

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