From the
organisers of
Hillhead logo

MPA Members’ General Assembly and Parliamentary Reception

MPA General Assembly

Events highlight need to accelerate delivery of infrastructure and provide security for indigenous production

THE fourth Mineral Products Association (MPA) Members’ General Assembly and AGMs was held on 4 June at Church House in Westminster, followed by a Parliamentary Reception in the House of Commons. Both events attracted capacity audiences from more than 60 organizations.

The theme of the General Assembly was ‘Accelerating Delivery’. The keynote speech, given by Lord Deighton, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, was followed by two interactive Business Panel sessions, with a range of expert speakers, which looked at the economic outlook, housing, energy, transport and infrastructure.


Lord Deighton ‘made the link’ in his address by recognizing the sector’s economic contribution. He said he was very clear on the connection between what the mineral products industry does, how that flows through to the economy and how it supports many other businesses.

He also stressed that government fully appreciates the importance of accelerating delivery of infrastructure and of converting good ideas, intentions and policies into things that really happen, and outlined how it aims to achieve this.

The two Business Panel discussions hinted that there are now signs of economic growth, but that the need for increased investment in infrastructure remains.

In the first Business Panel session, Stephen Gifford, CBI director of economics, said that the negative risks, such as Eurozone uncertainty and performance, are now balanced by more positive factors and growth should result.

Kevin Daly, managing director and senior economist at Goldman Sachs, thought that official data had underestimated the UK’s economic performance and there was now more evidence of greater confidence in business surveys, positive labour market data and improved financial conditions.

Both emphasized, however, that recovery was likely to be gradual and both raised concerns at the historically low levels of infrastructure investment in the UK, which acts as a drag on growth, as well as Government’s decisions in 2010 to cut investment. Nevertheless, the belated objective to now increase overall infrastructure investment was acknowledged.

In the second Business Panel session, Peter Andrews, land and planning director with Taylor Wimpey, indicated that housing prospects were improving and that the ‘Help to Buy’ initiative introduced in the Budget was generating increasing business, following the 10% drop in housing starts in 2012.

However, he said he was concerned about the slow progress of local authorities in delivering new Development Plans and about the longer-term implications of ‘localism’.

Lawrence Slade, chief operating officer of Energy UK, outlined the existing UK energy mix, which still includes a 36% reliance on coal-fired electricity generation, and concerns about future supply.

He asserted that the current Energy Bill should help clarify the regulatory environment for new investment and said it was essential that government gets its energy policy correct now as this policy will determine if energy companies are able and willing to make the investments urgently required in the UK.

Dr Nelson Ogunshakin OBE, chief executive of ACE and co-chair at the National Infrastructure Plan Strategic Engagement Forum (NIPSEF), described the policy and processes under way to identify outstanding infrastructure requirements and encourage delivery of projects.

He was concerned that the availability of government guarantees to support investment in infrastructure projects, for example the London Northern Line extension to Battersea, may be ineffective because of the conditions attached to such potential guarantees.

However, he said it was positive that government is now engaged with the construction industry and its supply chain to better understand the practicalities of delivering major infrastructure investments.

At the MPA’s Parliamentary Reception, Lord Deben, chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, stressed the need to support indigenous production. He said he was in favour of production at home and that the industry should continue its good work to reduce its carbon footprint, with government providing security and certainty.

Nigel Jackson, chief executive of the MPA, said: ‘This year’s successful General Assembly supported our ‘Make the Link’ campaign which aims to highlight the mineral products industry’s essential contribution to the economy and quality of life.

‘Our industry can play a key part in growth, but infrastructure projects need to be delivered more quickly. The key issue is about government converting well-intended aspirations into cash which can flow through the supply chain and support recovery.’

The MPA Members’ General Assembly is an annual event which attracts a broad spectrum of member companies and provides the opportunity to discuss the main industry issues of the day. This year’s event was skilfully hosted by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme business correspondent, Simon Jack.


Latest Jobs