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Chancellor launches National Infrastructure Commission

Words: Laura Edgar

Chancellor George Osborne has launched the National Infrastructure Commission in York today.

Chaired by Lord Adonis, the commission will oversee £100 billion of spending on infrastructure, including £15 billion for the Roads Investment Strategy, rail and flood defence improvements, the chancellor said.

Speaking at the National Railway Museum in York, alongside Lord Adonis, Osborne announced who will make up the independent commission (see table).

The commissioners are:

* Lord Heseltine – former deputy prime minister

* Sir John Armitt – former chair of the Olympic Delivery Authority, and next year’s President of the Institute of Civil Engineers

* Professor Tim Besley – former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee and the LSE’s Growth Commission

* Demis Hassabis – artificial intelligence researcher, neuroscientist and head of DeepMind Technologies

* Sadie Morgan – a founding director of dRMM Architects and Design Panel Chair of HS2

* Bridget Rosewell – a senior adviser at Volterra and former chief economist and chief economic adviser to the Greater London Authority

* Sir Paul Ruddock – chairman of the Victoria & Albert Museum and the University of Oxford Endowment

The group will produce a report at the start of each five-year parliament, offering recommendations for priority infrastructure projects.

The Treasury expects a series of asset sales to raise billions of pounds, which will be invested back into infrastructure projects. More details will be announced in the Spending Review on 25 November.

The Chancellor said that his Spending Review will be about delivering security.

“Infrastructure isn’t some obscure concept – it’s about people’s lives, economic security and the sort of country we want to live in. That’s why I am determined to shake Britain out of its inertia on infrastructure and end the situation where we trail our rivals when it comes to building everything from the housing to the power stations that our children will need.

“This is about jobs, growth, living standards and ensuring Britain is fit for the future. We must be the builders. At the Spending Review, I will commit to investing £100bn in infrastructure over the next five years and we are creating an independent commission to give us a long-term, unbiased analysis of the country’s major infrastructure needs.”

Richard Robinson, chief executive - civil infrastructure, Europe, Middle East, India and Africa at AECOM, said: “The Chancellor’s commitment to putting infrastructure at the heart of the Spending Review is welcome news, along with a £100 billion pledge on infrastructure spend by 2020. However, it is not yet clear if this is confirmation that all transformative existing programmes currently in their early stages will be funded. This confirmation would demonstrate long-term vision and real recognition that infrastructure investment fuels economic growth, helping the UK compete on the global stage.”

Robinson added that the commission should be granted the necessary binding decision-making powers to initiate projects.