Heseltine wants Davies Commission to report early so the UK can get on with building airport/runways
Michael Heseltine, the old Tory grandee who has been retired for some years, was asked by George Osborne in March 2012 to head an audit of the UK’s industrial performance. He has now produced his report, called “No Stone Unturned, in the pursuit of GROWTH”. It has a short section on aviation, in which he says that the Davies Commission review of airports should report before 2015 so work can begin on a third runway at Heathrow, or an alternative option, after the next election. His report says “the Government should publish all the options and all the arguments for airport expansion.” [So no mention of balance, or considering the arguments against]. And it says that while waiting for the Davies Commission to report “In the meantime preparatory work could commence, with a commitment that no construction contracts would be let until a mandate had been secured at the next general election. [So this presumes that a runway or an airport will definitely be the suggestion of the Davies Commission, pre-empting its findings. Or even details of how it will work and its terms of reference, yet to be announcement – let alone its deliberations].
Lord Heseltine urges Cameron to act on growth
David Cameron must produce a radical growth strategy and change government fundamentally if Britain is to win the “relentless economic war” it faces, an official review recommends today.
By Robert Winnett, Political Editor (Telegraph)
30 Oct 2012
Lord Heseltine of Thenford, who wrote the review, says that “the message I keep hearing is that the UK does not have a strategy for growth and wealth creation”.
He urges the Prime Minister to stop publicly questioning Britain’s relationship with Europe, bring forward decisions about extra airports and review immigration regulations.
The Conservative peer and former deputy prime minister also recommends that Whitehall departments are cut to become “smaller and more strategic” with more power devolved to the regions. Local Enterprise Partnerships would be strengthened and given billions of pounds.
Lord Heseltine also calls for councils to be given a legal duty to promote development and for pay restrictions on the senior Civil Service to be lifted to attract private sector talent. He says it “takes too long for decisions to be made” by civil servants and ministers.
The 228-page report, entitled “No Stone Unturned, in the pursuit of GROWTH” makes 89 recommendations.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Lord Heseltine, [who years ago tried to get an airport built at Maplin Sands in the Thames estuary – see below] a successful businessman, said that without reform Britain faced permanent decline.
…………. and it goes on ………………then
Lord Heseltine is also critical of some areas of Government policy that he indicates may be halting holding back economic growth.
He says that a review of airports should report before 2015 so work can begin on a third runway at Heathrow, or an alternative option, after the next election. He also calls for a “definitive and unambiguous energy policy” amid Coalition infighting over the issue. He also says that “regulations relating to immigration policy should be reviewed” following warnings from business leaders that tight rules are deterring entrepreneurs.
….. and it goes on ……….. then
A spokesman for Mr Cameron said the review would be studied “closely and carefully”.
George Osborne, the Chancellor, who ordered the review in March, said: “I wanted Lord Heseltine to do what he does best: challenge received wisdom and give us ideas on how to bring government and industry together.”
Michael Heseltline’s report is at http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/corporate/docs/n/12-1213-no-stone-unturned-in-pursuit-of-growth.pdf
Airport capacity in the South East
4.106 Another critical question is airport capacity. The DfT predicts that, with no new runways, Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick will be at full capacity by 2030 (60).
By 2050, these forecasts anticipate that each year, 42 million passengers from London and the South East will have to use airports outside of the region. Alternatively, of course, people may choose to stay away from London and the South East as other European capitals become easier to use.
4.107 These issues are very controversial, and therefore difficult, decisions for the Government to resolve. But the problem will not go away. The Government has asked Sir Howard Davies to chair a commission to investigate the issue and make recommendations as to the best way forward, which I welcome. However, I think the Government should revisit the timing of his findings. He is not scheduled to make his final recommendations until after the next general election in 2015.
4.108 I understand the commitments made in the Coalition Agreement to scrap plans for a third runway at Heathrow and the earlier election pledge. However, I believe there is a way forward which injects more urgency into the decision making process – and therefore confidence for all those we want to invest in our economy – without compromising the commitments made.
4.109 First, as soon as is practicable, the Government should publish all the options and all the arguments for airport expansion. [So no mention of balance, or considering the arguments against]. There will not be any surprises – all the arguments are known and have been very widely debated.
4.110 I am not in a position to influence the decision to a particular outcome and certainly would not wish to second guess Sir Howard Davies. But he should be asked to analyse all of these options and provide his advice in the next year, at which point the Government should set out its preference. All political parties could set out their positions in their next manifestos. In the meantime preparatory work could commence, with a commitment that no construction contracts would be let until a mandate had been secured at the next general election. [So this presumes that a runway or an airport will definitely be the suggestion of the Davies Commission, pre-empting its findings. Or even details of how it will work and its terms of reference, yet to be announcement – let alone its deliberations].
4.111 This would help unblock the current situation, where business sees at least three years more inertia before any indication of direction is provided. A commitment this time next year to a preferred solution would at least provide the private sector, here and abroad, with the necessary confidence that this government has a clear vision for the future.
(60). DfT, UK aviation forecasts, 2011, http://www.dft.gov.uk/publications/uk-aviation-forecasts-2011/
[4.112 The politics are uncomfortable. I know from my experience of trying to develop Maplin Airport in the 1970s. But against the current background it will not be possible for the Government to claim credibly at the next election that it has not made a decision or reached a preference about a third runway at Heathrow. Having given so absolute a commitment at the last election, any qualification of such a commitment at the next will be taken as a positive indication. It seems to me better to face the dilemma sooner rather than later with the benefits to business confidence that would follow.
Recommendation 60: The Government should accept the need to clarify urgently its preferred solution to the problem of airport capacity in the South East and indicate that preference whilst making its implementation conditional on the outcome of the next election.
4.113 These are not the only examples of major infrastructure issues that need firm decisions by gover nment – the regeneration of the Atlantic Gateway to make best use of the complementary economic weight of the Liverpool and Manchester city regions is another. These decisions should be taken urgently as part of our determination to be seen as an attractive place to invest.
In March 2011, he was asked to head up an audit of the UK’s industrial performance for the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and HM Treasury, upon which, after 11 years as a Member of the House of Lords, he made his maiden speech to the chamber.
From the Standard report about this:
“It tells everything about the decades of indecision on airports that in 1972 Heseltine was a junior industry minister trying to get agreement for a Thames estuary airport at Maplin Sands near Southend. “They were much the same issues as now,” he sighed. The project died with the Heath government in 1973, only to surface again as Boris Island.”
Wikipedia says, of Michael Heseltine – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Heseltine
In March 2012, he was asked to head an audit of the UK’s industrial performance for the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and HM Treasury, upon which, after 11 years as a Member of the House of Lords, he made his maiden speech to the chamber. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17479702)