'Without you, politicians would be making decisions in the dark,' John McDonnell tells FMB
After a tumultuous fortnight in politics, senior MPs, peers and others met in the House of Lords to seek refuge from the ever changing world outside, and to celebrate an anniversary.
The reception, celebrating the Federation of Master Builders’ 75th anniversary, was attended by not only over a hundred FMB members but also a former Great British Bake Off competitor, Richard Burr, who created a cake for the event in the shape of a house.
The atmosphere was triumphant as MPs lined up to praise the work of the FMB.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said: “With the FMB, you know you’re going to get a good job, you know you’re going to get a responsible work person who will deliver on what they say. I think that is what the FMB stands for.
“It also provides a voice for you in government about what the industry needs, in terms of skills, development of policy, etc. It’s essential, because if it wasn’t for the FMB and organisations like you, to be honest, politicians would be making decisions in the dark.
“On a cross party basis we listen to the experts.”
Communities and Local Government Secretary Greg Clark said: “The FMB has been very influential in delivering cool headed advice to policy makers of all sides in Parliament and those people in parliament who scrutinise. We’re very grateful for that.”
Patrick Heath Law, CEO of BC&E, whose company sponsored the event, said: “When you think about how much the industry has changed over the last 75 years, for an organisation to serve its members all throughout that time, it’s got to have a clear focus and be prepared to think the unthinkable during that time and change itself.
During his speech, Mr Berry announced the launch of the new FMB brand and screened a new advert for the audience members.
“This is more than just a visual refresh” he said, “we are putting a renewed emphasis on master builders in an effort to help ensure the wider public know that our members are the best. They are independently inspected and vetted before they join the FMB so that the badge has real meaning.
“Quite simply, with a FMB member, you will build better.”
Speaking about the necessity of the FMB for the government’s agenda, Mr Berry said the country would not be able to realise their ambitions for apprenticeships and house building without the help of organisations like his.
“The government wants to build one million new homes by 2020 but without more SME house builders increasing their output or joining the market, they won’t be able to do that. The government also wants to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 but without a fully engaged construction SME sector, which trains 2/3rds of all apprenticeships, they will fall short.”
Echoing his sentiments, Mr Clark told PoliticsHome: “The FMB are absolutely crucial to the revival of housebuilding. Since the financial crash, the big builders recovered more quickly than the small builders so one of my top priorities to really turbo charge the revival.”
“Whether it’s on land, on skills, on planning, our shared ambition must be to create the conditions for small and medium businesses to prosper. To achieve our objectives for the economy, and on housebuilding, we need to see all of you represented in this room have a bigger role. Your interests are the national interests. We should look forward to working together and make sure that the next 75 years have a major role.”
Mr Berry, Mr McDonnell and Mr Clark all discussed the priorities for builders after Brexit in their speeches.
Mr Berry said: “After the EU referendum we are entering unchartered territory. Now, more than ever, we are convinced that our members are key to helping the new government achieve its objectives over the coming months and years.
Mr McDonnell, who joked he had come to the event as a “place of refuge” after a tumultuous fortnight in the Labour party, argued politicians had to reassure the public.
“There are uncertainties at the moment, whichever way people voted, we have to try and reassure them that we respect the decision of the referendum but we get the best deal possible for Britain within a future of Britain itself.
Speaking after the event, the Shadow Chancellor told PoliticsHome: “My concern is that we need to ensure we maintain our relationships with the European Investment bank: we have over £6bn investment, a lot of that in the infrastructure.
“The key aspect for me now is making sure that we have access to the single market and we have a stable of investment for houses and for structural projects. I think we can secure long time cross party agreement on that. I’ve suggested to the government that we should agree a 10 year programme so it isn’t affected by the parliamentary cycle.”
Mr Clark told the audience: “23 June involved a momentous decision for the country but I think it’s appropriate that amidst change, there is also continuity, not least our shared determination to do the best for Britain. Making sure we have the homes that the future generations need.
“Of course the referendum involves challenges that we should face up to, but all governments are elected to face up to these waters and our country has had rougher waters in the past.”
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