George Osborne will pledge to “shake Britain out of its inertia” by handing decisions on building billions of pounds worth of new airports, roads, homes and power stations to an independent commission chaired by a former Labour cabinet minister.
In a significant blow for Jeremy Corbyn, the Chancellor will announce thatLord Adonis, the former Transport Secretary, is quitting his party to chair a new National Infrastructure Commission
Mr Osborne will use his speech to say that the new independent body will “dispassionately” decide what Britain “needs to build for its future”.
He will say: “Where would Britain be if we had never built railways or runways, power stations or new homes? Where will we be in the future if we stop building them now?
“I’m not prepared to turn round to my children – or indeed anyone else’s child – and say: I’m sorry, we didn’t build for you.
“We have to shake Britain out of its inertia on the projects that matter most.
Mr Osborne’s infrastructure commission will report at the beginning of every Parliament and say exactly what the Government should be building.
It will be set up in law and will work out “calmly and dispassionately what the country needs to build for its future and holds any Government’s feet to the fire if it fails to deliver”, Mr Osborne will say.
Sources said it is an attempt to take on “Nimbys” – many of whom are traditional Conservative supporters – and dramatically speed up stalled building projects.
As part of the plans, planning rules will be scrapped to make it easier to build on brownfield land.
Some questions – will this be the first step towards a ‘national plan’ or simply a body that acts as a bully pull pit for infrastructure without a plan. That is something that states what is needed without any mandate to research where it is needed.
The model seems to be the airports commission.
What linkages will there be if any with statutory plans?
Will it have a mandate to deal with issues raised under the duty to cooperate?
What linkages will there be if any with national infrastructure policy statements?
The move is encouraging, Lord Adonis is the right man for the job, and the first major step out of nimbyism. But as ever is poorly joined up and needs to be done properly through legislation (as is planned) and to ensure accountability through parliaments, and linkages to the devolution agenda.
As ever Osbornes blind spot is his instinctive anti-planning so he doesn’t recognise when he is proposing more of it.