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Klein queries Minister's broad brief

The head of a key specialist contractors group has voiced concern at the heavy workload of the new Construction Minister, Stephen Timms (pictured). Mr Timms has been briefed on his portfolio within the new Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Secretary of State John Hutton has handed Mr Timms a wide ranging brief including enterprise, growth and business investment, regional economies, e-commerce, bioscience, chemicals, shipbuilding and corporate governance, as well as construction. Rudi Klein, chief executive of the Specialist Engineering Contractors Group said: “He has many different areas of responsibility and if you take a year, after holidays, he could have only one month to devote to construction. This could limit what he can do. “We’ve already written to Mr Timms to congratulate him on his role and urge him to make the creation of a more integrated approach to project delivery and resolving payment concerns his key priorities. “If he makes progress on these two issues, he’ll be doing very well. He must have priorities if he is to get anything done. We want to see the new Minister announce his priorities as soon as possible.” Simon Storer, external affairs director of the Construction Products Association added: “We can’t expect the Minister to focus only on construction, that is unrealistic, however much we might like it. But we hope the Minister is aware of the importance of construction. “It represents 9 per cent of GDP, one third of all Government spending, and if the Government wishes to hit sustainability targets, it must get construction right. “Construction may not be as sexy as some of the other areas in his brief, but it is one of the most important.” Mr Storer also expressed disappointment that none of the 15 members of Gordon Brown’s recently announced Business Council came from the industry. The Council, which includes Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson and Tesco’s Sir Terry Leahy, will advise the Prime Minister on business issues and help “determine the future economic wellbeing of the UK”.