Autumn Budget Forecast — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 29th November 2011.

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Photo of Lord Newby Lord Newby Liberal Democrat 7:00 pm, 29th November 2011

My Lords, first, I thank the Minister for not repeating the Statement made by the Chancellor in another place. This is a welcome change in your Lordships' procedure. I wonder if I could ask him two questions about infrastructure.

We welcome the fact that the pension funds have said that they are prepared in principle to invest £20 billion in infrastructure, but as the noble Lord, Lord Myners, said, it is clear that there is a long way to go before those plans are concrete. Can the Minister tell us something about the timetable that the Government envisage before the first tranche of that £20 billion starts to flow into specific infrastructure projects? Clearly, time is of the essence on this.

Secondly, on infrastructure more generally, the Statement is silent on the question of social housing, which in my view is a very serious omission because we have a housing crisis. Not only is housing necessary in itself, it is also one of the quickest and easiest ways of creating employment up and down the country. Does the Government's definition of infrastructure, particularly in relation to the pension fund money which may be coming in, extend to social housing and, more generally, what plans do the Government have on this front?