Latham Report

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 17th May 1995.

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Photo of Mike Gapes Mike Gapes , Ilford South 2:30 pm, 17th May 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce legislation to implement the recommendations of the Latham report in the current Session of Parliament. [23196]

Photo of Mr Robert Jones Mr Robert Jones , Hertfordshire West

The Government have no plans to introduce legislation in the current Session. My right hon. Friend has today published a consultation paper on Sir Michael Latham's recommendations on fair contract conditions.

Photo of Mike Gapes Mike Gapes , Ilford South

Is the Minister aware that many companies, including Essex Electrical in my constituency and members of the Electrical Contractors Association, will be bitterly disappointed that the Government have no immediate plans to introduce legislation? Will he give the House an assurance that that is not due to opposition from some of his ministerial colleagues in the Department of Trade and Industry, who have ideological objections to regulation?

Photo of Mr Robert Jones Mr Robert Jones , Hertfordshire West

The hon. Gentleman's constituents and indeed everyone else would be astonished if we made such an announcement before the end of the consultation period on the first consultative document, and before we had published the second consultative document. The key to success with the Latham recommendations is that we proceed through consensus throughout industry. That is the Government's target. I hope that that will be supported by consensus in the House.

Photo of Mr James Lester Mr James Lester , Broxtowe

Does my hon. Friend consider Sir Michael Latham's work, which I think most of us recognise as thorough and helpful, to be important? Many of us have had problems with subcontractors who have gone bankrupt because they have not been paid for work that they have under taken. The work of my friend Michael Latham was worth while. I hope that the consultation documents will carry things forward to a satisfactory conclusion.

Photo of Mr Robert Jones Mr Robert Jones , Hertfordshire West

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I have no hesitation in praising the work that Sir Michael Latham has done, but he was not the only one. Many people in the construction industry have done an immense amount of work, taking his reports forward into the proposals that have been issued as consultative documents. As one who worked in the construction industry before I was elected to the House, I have every sympathy with subbies. Poor treatment of subcontractors is in no one's best interest. It does not deliver good projects, a healthy industry or good value for money, and we must combat that.