The UK construction industry is “first class” and of vital importance to the economy, building regulations minister Iain Wright told a gathering of leading industry figures and MPs on Monday at Building’s annual House of Commons reception.

The MP praised the industry for its role in the economy and said simplification of the Building Regulations could lead to even higher standards.

He said: “Not only in the UK, but across the world, your industry is absolutely first class.

“I’ve had a lot of positive responses to the work we’ve been doing on Building Regulations and the review of building control. I would like to see greater simplification that will increase standards, quality and compliance.”

Following his speech, the minister told Building that one of the key challenges for the industry was to press ahead with sustainable development without sacrificing good design.

He said: “We need to move ahead with the massive agenda of sustainability in terms of bringing forward innovative new products but I don’t want to do any of that at the expense of good design. I would hate to look back at the stuff we built in 20 years time and say ‘What were we doing?’”

We need to move ahead with the massive agenda of sustainability, but I don’t want to do that at the expense of good design

Iain Wright, MP

More than 200 industry chiefs and politicians circulated at the annual reception, which is intended to improve communication between MPs and the industry.

Guests included construction minister Baroness Vadera, chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority David Higgins and chief executive of the Miller Group Keith Miller.

Bill Olner MP, secretary of the all-party parliamentary study group for construction, which organised the event with Building, also heaped praise on the industry and urged it to keep hold of its skilled people.

He said: “It is extremely important that we don’t let the economic turbulence upset the rhythm of the skills base at all levels in your industry. If we do lose it, when the turbulence stops we won’t be in a good position.”