If Mervyn King says we are about to head into recession, frankly it's pretty much a done deal.

No matter how much the Government says it wants to protect construction, in reality there is only so much it can do. The industry is heading for recession, if it is not already dipping into one.

Wish as I and others may that this time it will be different - post Latham, post Egan - the reality is that firms will fall back into bad habits, there will be market abuses.

Among the most damaging is the crazy, but understandable, practice of suicidal bidding to win work.

To some it may sound absurd, but the OFT must act and find a way to curb this market abuse.

In the 1990s recession there was more damage done to the construction industry through absurd below cost-bidding than was achieved through the sharp drop in workload.

In the face of recession construction prices will fall, clients will get better deals. We are already seeing that happen.

The construction industry is extremely flexible.

It has a relatively low capital base (excluding human capital - if I can use that hideous phrase). So, if we can accept the pain of redundancies it should be able to survive reasonably well in tact.

But the construction industry will not come out of recession well if good firms are driven into the ground by the bad, by the desperate suicidal bidding of firms keen to win work and survive at any cost.

This will cause a breakdown of trust. It will cause a harmful spiral of negative price bidding. It will lead to worse health and safety and more death. Worse site practices and more disputes. And inevitably it will lead to a worse product.

This is not in the interest of the industry or the general public, let alone the "consumer".

The result will be an industry emerging from recession badly damaged, not leaner and fitter. And so the familiar cycle goes on.

The job of the OFT according to its mission statement is "to make markets work well for consumers".

That does not mean making things cheaper in the short term. The long-term interest of the consumer of construction - and that is all of us - is to have a strong and efficient, safe and effective industry.

I appreciate the paradox here. And it will require something of a cultural leap for the good officers of the OFT to understand that suicidal bidding is not a market abuse of the strong, but a market abuse of the weak and desperate.