Labour leader Ed Miliband wants to establish  National Infrastructure Commission if his party wins the next election

Infrastructure commission to end 'chronic short-termism'

Labour wants to establish an independent National Infrastructure Commission to end a culture of "chronic short-termism".

In a speech today, party leader Ed Miliband will call for cross-party consensus on a system of long-term infrastructure planning and decision-making to reverse what he sees as a lack of investment in areas like power generation, communications and transport links.

Former London Olympics supremo Sir John Armitt will publish draft legislation to set up the Commission if Labour returns to power after the next election, which was the key recommendation of his review of the country's infrastructure needs for Labour last year.

The Armitt Report said the new body should have a remit to identify the UK's infrastructure needs over the next 25 to 30 years and make recommendations to foster economic growth and maintain international competitiveness.

An independent Commission would "make the current tendency for policy drift more difficult to sustain and mean that when a Government does change course, this is only done on the basis of sound evidence", he said.

Miliband is expected to say that the party's "central mission" in power will be to rebuild faith in both politics and markets by fostering "a new era of success" in which everyone has the chance to share in the country's prosperity, but he will insist that the party will rely on "big reforms, not big spending" to fuel growth, jobs and profits.

Speaking to the Policy Network thinktank, Miliband will say: "Nowhere is the failure of the ability to plan for the long-term clearer than in our infrastructure, where Britain lags far behind other countries.

"As Sir John Armitt says, the UK needs affordable clean energy, modern communication systems, flood defences that can cope with the effects of climate change and a transport system that can cope with ever-growing demand and which links business with markets and people with families, leisure and job opportunities.

Dr Adam Marshall, executive director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, gave a cautious welcome to the plans.

"Businesses would support the creation of a National Infrastructure Commission if it delivers quicker decisions, more certainty for investors, and faster action on the ground," he said. "However, we've been here before. Britain's creaking business infrastructure is the result of short-term thinking and constant u-turns by politicians of all parties.

"On aviation, roads, rail, energy generation and digital connectivity, we have a lot of ground to make up. A National Infrastructure Commission will only work if its assessments are not constantly undermined by Westminster petty politicking."

For the Conservatives, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: "It's the same old Labour, just offering more spending, more borrowing and more taxes. When even his own top adviser says he's not up to the job, it's clear Ed Miliband is too weak to take the difficult decisions needed to secure Britain's future.

"Rather than playing short-term political games with the new north-south railway – HS2 – Labour should back it, back HS3 in the North, and back our national infrastructure plan."

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