More than 150 MPs and industry leaders, including construction minister Nick Raynsford, gathered in the House of Commons on Monday evening for Building’s annual Terrace Reception.
In an impromptu, five-minute address, Raynsford spoke of his determination to make his anti-cowboy quality mark succeed, despite its slow start. In the light of the current recruitment difficulties, the minister also highlighted the need for firms to attract new talent, particularly at managerial level.
Raynsford praised his new Tory shadow Robert Syms for refusing to descend to the usual cross-party name-calling during the recent parliamentary debate on construction.
He also spoke of his affection for Building, for which he was a columnist for more than a decade. He described the magazine as “interesting, challenging and – mostly – accurate”, a good-natured reference to his recent criticisms of the coverage of the anti-cowboy pilot in Birmingham.
The three-hour reception was sponsored by Sir Sydney Chapman, the architect MP, who is also vice-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Construction. The group, which has been sponsored by Building since it was founded in 1976, acts as a forum for MPs to discuss construction issues with industry leaders. Recent topics at the group’s lunches have included the housing policy green paper and the recruitment problems at craft and managerial level.
It was a special night for Sir Sydney – the 30th anniversary of the day he first entered the House of Commons.
Among the industry guests were Bovis Lend Lease chairman Sir Frank Lampl, Laing chairman Sir Martin Laing, Amec chief executive Peter Mason, Balfour Beatty chief executive Mike Welton and Jarvis chief executive Paris Moayedi.
The leading consultants included Citex chief executive Oliver Jones, Allies and Morrison partner Graham Morrison, London Eye designer Julia Barfield, Geoff Mann of RHWL and Rab Bennetts of Bennetts Associates.
The attendees also included Housing Forum chairman Sir Michael Pickard, Movement for Innovation chief Alan Crane, Construction Confederation chief executive Jennie Price, Construction Industry Council chief executive Graham Watts and Michael Ankers, chief executive of the Construction Products Association.
The MPs present included former Tory heritage and health secretary Virginia Bottomley and her ex-ministerial husband Peter, and Gerald Kaufman, the chairman of the culture select committee and a Building columnist, who was also celebrating his 30th anniversary in parliament.