Building’s annual terrace reception at the House of Commons was the setting for Mark Prisk’s first formal address as construction minister

The changes necessary to save the UK’s economy will not be “quick or easy” but the construction industry “will survive”. These were the words of Mark Prisk, the new construction minister, as he made his first formal address to the industry at Building’s annual terrace reception at the House of Commons on Monday.

Not even the lure of the Spain vs Honduras game could keep construction’s great and good away from the event, organised with the All-Party Parliamentary Study Group for Construction. Some 200 guests gathered on the eve of the Budget to hear Prisk, a former surveyor, talk about how he plans to represent and support the industry.

Despite the impending Budget, spirits were high. The joking was kicked off by former construction minister Nick Raynsford as he welcomed Prisk to his new role. He said: “I have welcomed many construction ministers over the course of the past nine years and they have come and gone with alarming regularity. I am not sure if this is offering Mark a poison chalice when I say I hope that you will have the time in the job to make the impact this industry is looking for, needs and deserves.”

Prisk also raised a laugh when he alluded to his 18-year career in construction: “I know how this industry works which terrifies my officials as there us nothing quite so unnerving as a minister who knows what the hell he is talking about.”

He went on to outline some of the key areas he will focus on before adding: I am really optimistic about this sector. I think we can do it.

“The changes that really matter won’t be quick and easy. They are ones that, when you look back, you realise they haven’t just changed a little bit, they have changed the whole direction of the sector, its aspirations and opportunities.”