The Government has set out its stall after consulting on the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), making some important political points in the process…
1/ The Treasury will, ultimately, be the NIC’s master. The Chancellor will appoint the body’s chair, commissioners and CEO. The Chancellor will also determine when the NIC can present reports to Parliament and what topics should be covered (with preferred topics likely to include those where the Treasury can influence recommendations by supplying data and ‘expertise’).
2/ In giving the NIC one ‘fiscal envelope’ to assess what can be afforded, the Government has implied there will be a single “infrastructure budget” that covers everything from bricks to broadband. This is likely to provoke a zero-sum approach by supporters for individual projects and suggests the Government does not anticipate significant private sector finance for potential projects.
3/ The NIC will provide an annual review of Government progress on agreed projects – based on figures provided by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, which is run by the Cabinet Office. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the NIC has been barred from offering a view on Hinkley, HS2, or Heathrow.
Full details of the Government’s response can be found here: http://bit.ly/1Z8e9XA