Saturday, 21 April 2012

NHBC: two political events in a week

Lynne Sullivan got the last question and Tim Yeo, Tory Chairman DECC Select Committee, grabbed it; Yeo agreed with her suggestion that we should reverse the tariff structure for electricity and charge those who use more at a higher rate rather than at a lower rate as now; then he went on to suggest that what we really needed was personal carbon allowances - hurrah!

So we finished on a high although I doubt that the Chancellor will be worried. This NHBC Foundation and APPG for Sustainable Housing debate at the House of Commons was well attended by senior NHBC people, housebuilders, contractors, manufacturers and some concerned architects. Elegantly chaired by Nick Raynsford ("this winter the only heating we needed in our new highly insulated flat was the towell rail for one hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening"), Hilary Benn and Tim Yeo discussed the need for More Homes and Greener Homes with support from David Smith, Sunday Times Economics Editor, and Zero Carbon Hub Director Neil Jefferson.

David Smith set the tone by declaring there would be no 'sudden thawing of the economy any time soon'. But what surprised me was the quiet but almost universal criticism of the Government's lack of understanding and general vacillation; this from a fairly conservative audience and Yeo did little to counter it.

Then yesterday the same people gathered at NHBC's office in the City at 8am to hear Boris Johnson on the hustings; we were joined by the specialist press and charities such as Crisis and Shelter so the wide-ranging and focussed critical questioning resulted in a mixture of pledges and evasion. Boris's face is a great ever-changing puzzle with those tiny eyes that narrow when he is thinking; he entertained us of course, enjoying sailing close to the wind eg. "That person known as the Jaws of Death...George Osborne."

More style than substance and on his own, without any heckling, I thought he was a bit lost and kept invoking Ken Livingstone for something to attack. Of course he took credit for all the activities that Ken had commissioned in the previous regime and defended his 'cleanest bus in Europe' but there were precious few ideas.

Lets hope NHBC can get Ken so we can see how he performs without a punchbag.

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