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New generation of MPs are “most influential”

Building services firms are being urged to exploit “a great opportunity” the fight the industry’s cause with successful and “genuinely hungry” new MPs.

As the UK came to terms last week with a hung parliament, the UK’s new generation of MPs are being described as the “most influential in a long time”. With the pressure the next government will face to slash public spending, HVAC contractors have been told to get to
know the victorious candidates.

Heating and Ventilating Contractors’ Association deputy chief executive Rod Pettigrew said: “I think this is a great opportunity. What we should have is actually more MPs spread across all the parties, which means more MPs who are opinion-formers and policymakers.

“We expect there to be a genuine hunger from MPs to know about issues – it is like the  first day of school for them. They are hungry for information and it is a real
opportunity for industry to engage with MPs and ministers on our issues.”

Other industry trade bodies, including the UK Contractors Group, have made similar calls.  UKCG director Stephen Ratcliffe said: “MPs are going to be much more important than they have ever been before.

“There will be a big need to get to know these new MPs. We will want to not only be dealing with ministers, but now also with normal backbenchers to make sure they are taking an interest in construction too.”

Mr Pettigrew said he had written to all members to encourage them to meet local members and engage with them on sector specific issues. He said the HVCA’s top priorities when dealing with MPs was to push value for money construction – including standardised PQQs and project bank accounts – and enforcement of new environmental legislation.

He said: “We are not looking at a huge shopping list, and it is really important that the industry is not simply perceived as saying: “Give usmore work”.

“We have some real arguments to put forward about how the construction industry can contribute to the wellbeing of the country, and that is what we need to focus on.”

Mr Pettigrew said he hoped the success of the Olympics projects and the industry’s progress on carbon issues would put the industry in the spotlight for positive reasons and that contractors could use those examples to push the construction message.

Meanwhile, May Gurney chief executive Philip Fellowes-Prynne called for the new government to “start being strategic and minimise uncertainty”.

Henry Boot group managing director Jamie Boot argued that capital projects should not be cut substantially. “They are desperately needed,” he said.

“The capital expenditure must continue and it is the revenue side which must be addressed.”

Miller Group chief executive Keith Miller agreed. He said: “The next government has got to  keep spending on capital projects that provide jobs and value for the economy. The  Government should cut expenditure from its current account and not its capital projects.”

All eyes will now be on government spending projects – including Building Schools for the
Future programme – to see if a new administration will make cutbacks.