Rachel Reeves says Labour will get rid of ‘obstacles created by antiquated planning system’ – UK politics live | Politics

Rachel Reeves says Labour will unleash more building by getting rid of ‘obstacles created by antiquated planning system’

Good morning. It’s a busy day at the Labour conference, with 12 members of the shadow cabinet giving speeches, with the highlight Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, at noon. In a speech in May, Keir Starmer put down what he hopes will be one of the big dividing lines in the next election when he declared that Labour were the builders and the Tories the blockers. Reeves will today give some indication as to how that might happen.

According to extracts from the speech released in advance, Reeves will say that Labour will take on the “obstacles presented by our antiquated planning system”.

Here is the Labour summary of the reforms that the party is proposing.

Speeding up the planning for critically important infrastructure by updating all national policy statements – which set out what types of projects the country needs – within the first six months of a Labour government.

Fast-tracking the planning process for priority growth areas of the economy, such as battery factories, laboratories, and 5G infrastructure.

Ensuring local communities get something back by providing businesses and communities with a menu of potential incentives, which could include cheaper energy bills.

Tackling unnecessary, egregious, and time-consuming litigation by setting clearer national guidance for developers on the engagement and consultation expected with local communities.

Strengthening public sector capacity to expedite planning decisions by raising the stamp duty surcharge on non-UK residents to appoint 300 new planning officers.

In her speech, Reeves will say:

If we want to spur investment, restore economic security, and revive growth. Then we must get Britain building again.

The Tories would have you believe we can’t build anything anymore. In fact, the single biggest obstacle to building infrastructure, to investment and to growth in this country is the Conservative party itself.

If the Tories won’t build, if the Tories can’t build, then we will. Taking head on the obstacles presented by our antiquated planning system.

Since 2012, decision times for national infrastructure have increased by 65%, now taking four years. Labour stands with the builders not the blockers.

So today I am announcing our plans to get Britain building.

Reeves has been doing a morning interview round. I will post the highlights shortly.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.15am: The conference proceedings start.

9.25am: David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, opens a debate on international affairs. There are also speeches from John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, and Lisa Nandy, the shadow international development secretary.

10.30am: Liz Kendall, the shadow work and pensions secretary, opens a debate on growth, which will also cover a Unite motion calling for energy companies to be brought into public ownership. Jonathan Reynolds, the shadow business secretary, is also speaking.

12pm: Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, gives her speech.

2pm: Thangam Debbonaire, the shadow culture secretary, and Peter Kyle, the shadow science secretary, speak in the ongoing debate on growth.

2.45pm: Ian Murray, the shadow Scottish secretary, and Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, speak to the conference.

3pm: Ed Miliband, the shadow energy security and net zero secretary, speaks in a debate on energy. He will also take part in a Q&A.

4pm: Jo Stevens, the shadow Welsh secretary, and Mark Drakeford, the Welsh first minister, give speeches.

4.10pm: Hilary Benn, the shadow Northern Ireland secretary, gives a speech.

4.20pm: Nesil Caliskan, leader of the Labour group on the Local Government Association, speaks. He will be followed by Joe Fortune, general secretary of the Cooperative party.

This blog will be mostly focused on Labour today, but there may be some brief coverage of two other developments in UK politics. In London, the supreme court hearing on the legality of the Rwanda deportation scheme starts. And Rishi Sunak is doing the media rounds today, holding a PM Connect Q&A in the morning, and doing an interview with Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 at 12.45pm.

If you want to contact me, do try the “send us a message” feature. You’ll see it just below the byline – on the left of the screen, if you are reading on a laptop or a desktop. This is for people who want to message me directly. I find it very useful when people message to point out errors (even typos – no mistake is too small to correct). Often I find your questions very interesting, too. I can’t promise to reply to them all, but I will try to reply to as many as I can, either in the comments below the line; privately (if you leave an email address and that seems more appropriate); or in the main blog, if I think it is a topic of wide interest.

Key events

This morning Sharon Graham, the Unite general secretary, told the Today programme that she wanted Labour to be more ambitious. Restating an argument that she made in an Observer interview at the weekend, she said:

Whilst I think Rachel is doing a good job, I don’t think we’re going get this sort of growth that they’re talking about quickly. We haven’t had high growth since the 1970s.

And so what I’m saying is that we need to look at the economy differently. We need to do some big ticket ideas. And the renationalisation of energy is one of those ideas. It is absolutely affordable and Labour needs to act more like a 1945 transformative government rather than being so timid.

This morning the conference is debating a priorities ballot motion on critical infrastructure, moved by Unite, saying Labour should being energy companies back into public ownership, starting with the National Grid’s electricity and gas networks. There will be a vote at lunchtime.

Asked to respond to complaints like this about Labour not being bold enough, Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, told BBC Breakfast:

I’m under no illusions about the scale of the task that I will face if I become chancellor of the exchequer next year.

The public finances are in a dire state, growth is on the floor, public services are on their knees.

It is going to require discipline, determination and hard choices. But they will be Labour choices based on our values.

Rachel Reeves being interviewed this morning. Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

Mandelson says Scottish Labour should have some ’empathy’ for nationalist voters and not be ‘reluctant devolutionists’

Severin Carrell

Peter Mandelson has said Labour needs to show much more empathy towards Scottish National party voters and be “genuine not reluctant devolutionists” if it is to regain power in Holyrood as well as Westminster.

Mandelson, one of the most influential architects of New Labour and Tony Blair’s 1997 election victory, said he had campaigned during the Rutherglen and Hamilton West byelection and met numerous SNP and ex-SNP voters.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland, he said that despite the scale of the Labour byelection victory, defeating the SNP with a 20% swing, it still had to justify itself to Scottish voters and prove it could deliver. He went on:

My feeling about them is that they don’t expect Labour to support independence in Scotland, but they do want us to show an empathy towards those who do support independence.

I think that we need to gain a hearing from ex-SNP voters, I think that’s going to be very important indeed if we’re going to build our support and win the seats that we need at the next election.

That involved continuing with the devolution project, by adding to Holyrood’s powers and freedom of movement, and repaying voters’ trust in Labour after the next general election, Mandelson said. He went on:

It looks increasingly as if Scottish Labour will deliver seats to build a UK Labour majority in the next parliament after the election. I think importantly, in return, a Labour government, should it be formed, must then deliver to Scotland and the Scottish people ahead of the Holyrood elections in 2026. And that’s got to be the basis, in my view, of our appeal and of our project.

I’m very clear that for Labour as a whole to strengthen its appeal in Scotland we need to present a convincing economic growth plan to benefit the whole of the UK including Scotland, and that’s something the SNP can’t do.

We’ve got to be genuine, not reluctant, devolutionists. I think we’ve got to offer greater freedom of action and reform both within and between the nations and regions of the UK so as to deliver more for the Scottish people.

Peter Mandelson at the Labour conference yesterday. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

In Liverpool the formal conference proceedings have started. Luke Akehurst, who is chairing the session, starts by reading out the results of the card votes held yesterday. The most important was probably the vote on the national policy forum report, which was approved by 80% to 20%. Only 9% of constituency Labour party delegates voted against it, but 31% of union delegates voted against it.

The Labour party has also released the results of the ballot yesterday on what topics would be allowed for priority ballot debates. Yesterday we learned that the attempt by pro-Europeans to hold a debate on Brexit failed.

The full voting figures show that support for the Brexit debate was tiny. None of the union delegates voted for it, and only 16,258 CLP delegates voted for it. By contrast, 210,447 constituency Labour party (CLP) delegates voted for a debate on the NHS and 145,518 voted for a debate on defence (the least popular of the six topics of the 49 on the list that got enough support to secure a debate).

How Labour says it would speed up planning decisions for major infrastructure projects

Labour has sent out a briefing to journalists with further details of its plans to change planning laws with the aim of allowing infrastracture to be built faster and cheaper. (See 8.12am.) This does not seem to be available online, so here is the summary for the record. (Bold type from the original document.)

Reforms to nationally significant infrastructure projects

Certainty, not chaos:

Some National Policy Statements have not been updated for more than a decade, and do not reflect existing government policy. Labour will update all national policy statements within the first six months of a Labour government, providing clear policy, set by ministers, detailing what should be built and where, and linked to specific announcements and funding streams. We will also set clear objectives, hardwiring national priorities like economic growth and net zero into the planning system, as is done in Germany.

Labour will modernise the infrastructure planning regime to reflect a changing economy. This approach will accelerate planning applications and the development of gigafactories, laboratories and 5G infrastructure.

Proportionality, not red tape:

Planning applications for a single project like the Thames Tunnel can be over 60,000 pages long and cost £800 million of taxpayers’ money before a single shovel is in the ground. The £20 billion Sizewell C project compiled over 44,000 pages of environmental data, but was challenged for failure to assess the environmental impact.

Labour will set national policy guidance on the proportionality of evidence required, with the planning inspectorate returning to its role as an assessor rather than arbiter. We will set ‘off the shelf’ mitigation standards and approved mitigation schemes, so developers know in advance what actions to take and costs, reducing delays and legal challenge while enhancing protection for vulnerable species and habitats.

Communities benefiting, not ignored:

Community consent is vital to the long-term success of the planning system, and delay can set in when local communities feel their views have been ignored. At present, there is no clear policy framework to guide decision making by business or inform the expectations of local areas. This adds unnecessary delay and pits communities and businesses against one another.

A Labour government would simplify this system by building a clear framework for community benefit on clean energy projects, providing business and communities with a clear menu of ‘off the shelf’ options they can choose from. This will simplify the consenting process and make applications quicker, cheaper, and simpler.

Democracy, not litigation:

In recent years, the rate of judicial review has soared, with nearly three in five projects facing judicial review up from a long-term average of ten per cent.

Labour will set out clear national guidance on consultation. This will mean that, whilst we will ensure high standards for engagement and democratic accountability, developers will no longer feel the need to run overly lengthy, often duplicative rounds of consultation, with protection from legal challenge if they have strictly adhered to guidance.

Grip, not drift:

Labour will increase planning capacity by hiring more than 300 new planners across the public sector. This will also allow us to ensure that every local planning authority has at least one full time planner, which is not currently the case, as well as providing for central government planning resource to be beefed up. We will fund this by increasing the surcharge on stamp duty paid by non-UK-residents when they buy property in the UK, from two percent to three percent, as announced at our party conference in 2022. This will raise £25m a year.

The government also says it wants to address this issue, although Rishi Sunak is partly constrained by Tory MPs worried about anything that might see forests of pylons going up in their rural constituencies. In February the government announced plans to speed up the planning process for significant infrastructure. And in his net zero speech last month Sunak said the government was working on “comprehensive new reforms to energy infrastructure” to speed up planning.

Anas Sarwar to accuse SNP of ‘failing to put people of Scotland first’

Severin Carrell

Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, is to claim later today that the Scottish National party has “failed to put the people of Scotland first”, in effect stealing and reversing one of the SNP’s main attacks lines on Labour.

Sarwar and Ian Murray, the shadow Scottish secretary, will be addressing the Labour conference on Monday afternoon after the party’s “seismic” byelection victory in Rutherglen and Hamilton West last week, taking 58% of the vote.

That victorious new MP, Michael Shanks, a modern studies teacher, is likely to be introduced officially to delegates during Sarwar’s speech. Labour estimates it could win 28 Scottish Westminster seats, based on the Rutherglen result.

Labour sources say their confidence has been strengthened after repeatedly hearing from SNP members during the byelection campaign that they were sad and disillusioned about the party’s plight, the infighting and the police investigation into the SNP and its inability to deliver a second independence referendum.

Critics of Humza Yousaf, the SNP leader and first minister, believe he has failed to properly address the cost of living crisis, which amplified the scale of its byelection defeat.

According to advance extracts of Sarwar’s speech, he will say:

The cracks in the foundations of the SNP are deeper and wider than they’ve ever recognised and while senior nationalists have lined up in TV studios to blame the voters – they have missed the point.

Politics is about changing lives. It is about delivering a future where everyone can live up to their potential.

It is about serving the people of Scotland. That is what the SNP have forgotten. It’s that failure to stand up for Scotland, that failure to put country before party that has seen people turn their backs on them.

Rachel Reeves arriving for media interviews at the Labour conference this morning. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

IFS director Paul Johnson says it will be ‘very hard’ for Labour to improve public services without tax rises

Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies thinktank, told the Today programme this morning that it would be “very hard” for Labour to improve public services without raising taxes.

Labour says it wants to focus on increasing growth as a means of generating the extra tax revenues that would enable public services to improve. Johnson said higher growth would be very welcome, but that this might take several years to achieve.

Asked if that meant it would be realistic for Labour to stick to the spending plans it has without higher tax rises, he replied:

I’m not convinced that either a Labour or a Conservative government could do that. The most recent budget red book suggests extremely tight spending plans after the next election, even though taxes are at quite a high, or very high, level …

I think it’s going to be tough for either party. But clearly one’s presumption is that Labour is more inclined to want to do something to improve public services, and possibly the welfare system, and that’s going to be very hard indeed without some tax rises, at least in the short run, until and unless growth really does change.

Labour says its fiscal rules are “non-negotiable” and these say that it will not borrow to fund day to day spending, and that it will reduce national debt as a share of the economy.

Asked if there was any leeway in these rules that would allow Labour to borrow more than the Conservatives, Johnson replied:

The markets might well allow some more borrowing. One thing that the markets are really keen on is seeing a stable government and I think on both sides we see more stability in recent years.

But Labour have also said they want debt to be falling over the period of the parliament. That is actually the big constraint here. Debt is not really on course to fall over the next five years or so. That’s what really tied Jeremy Hunt’s hands back in March [in the budget] and … if the Labour party stick to that same rule, that will also tie their hands.

As David Rose reports for the Jewish Chronicle, a speaker from the Palestinian Youth Movement was cheered at an event at the World Transformed in Liverpool yesterday when she praised the “Palestinian resistance”. The World Transformed is a leftwing festival set up when Jeremy Corbyn was leader. It is not connected to the Labour party, but it takes place every year close to where the Labour conference is happening and some delegates attend both.

Asked about the cheering at this event, Rachel Reeves told Times Radio this morning:

I’ve got no time for that.

I want to see a Palestinian state existing alongside a safe and secure Israel.

What frustrates me so much is that what Hamas has done over the last few days has set back the cause for peace that I am so desperate to see in the Middle East, and that people across Labour are desperate to see in the Middle East.

In normal circumstances, Labour conference would be front-page news, but this week’s event has being overshadowed by the war between Israel and Hamas. Rachel Reeves has been taking questions on this in her morning interviews and she stressed Labour’s support for Israel. In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, asked about claims that the “occupation of Palestine” had provoked the attacks by Hamas, Reeves replied:

Gaza is not occupied by Israel.

The real cause of what is happening now is a terrorist attack. If Britain or any other country was attacked by terrorists, we would believe, and rightly so, that we have every right to defend ourselves, to get back hostages and to protect our citizens.

Israel is no different. It has every right to defend itself …

Of course, it has to abide by international rules of engagement, but my heart goes out at the moment to everybody affected by this terrible situation.

Rachel Reeves says Labour will unleash more building by getting rid of ‘obstacles created by antiquated planning system’

Good morning. It’s a busy day at the Labour conference, with 12 members of the shadow cabinet giving speeches, with the highlight Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, at noon. In a speech in May, Keir Starmer put down what he hopes will be one of the big dividing lines in the next election when he declared that Labour were the builders and the Tories the blockers. Reeves will today give some indication as to how that might happen.

According to extracts from the speech released in advance, Reeves will say that Labour will take on the “obstacles presented by our antiquated planning system”.

Here is the Labour summary of the reforms that the party is proposing.

Speeding up the planning for critically important infrastructure by updating all national policy statements – which set out what types of projects the country needs – within the first six months of a Labour government.

Fast-tracking the planning process for priority growth areas of the economy, such as battery factories, laboratories, and 5G infrastructure.

Ensuring local communities get something back by providing businesses and communities with a menu of potential incentives, which could include cheaper energy bills.

Tackling unnecessary, egregious, and time-consuming litigation by setting clearer national guidance for developers on the engagement and consultation expected with local communities.

Strengthening public sector capacity to expedite planning decisions by raising the stamp duty surcharge on non-UK residents to appoint 300 new planning officers.

In her speech, Reeves will say:

If we want to spur investment, restore economic security, and revive growth. Then we must get Britain building again.

The Tories would have you believe we can’t build anything anymore. In fact, the single biggest obstacle to building infrastructure, to investment and to growth in this country is the Conservative party itself.

If the Tories won’t build, if the Tories can’t build, then we will. Taking head on the obstacles presented by our antiquated planning system.

Since 2012, decision times for national infrastructure have increased by 65%, now taking four years. Labour stands with the builders not the blockers.

So today I am announcing our plans to get Britain building.

Reeves has been doing a morning interview round. I will post the highlights shortly.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.15am: The conference proceedings start.

9.25am: David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, opens a debate on international affairs. There are also speeches from John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, and Lisa Nandy, the shadow international development secretary.

10.30am: Liz Kendall, the shadow work and pensions secretary, opens a debate on growth, which will also cover a Unite motion calling for energy companies to be brought into public ownership. Jonathan Reynolds, the shadow business secretary, is also speaking.

12pm: Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, gives her speech.

2pm: Thangam Debbonaire, the shadow culture secretary, and Peter Kyle, the shadow science secretary, speak in the ongoing debate on growth.

2.45pm: Ian Murray, the shadow Scottish secretary, and Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, speak to the conference.

3pm: Ed Miliband, the shadow energy security and net zero secretary, speaks in a debate on energy. He will also take part in a Q&A.

4pm: Jo Stevens, the shadow Welsh secretary, and Mark Drakeford, the Welsh first minister, give speeches.

4.10pm: Hilary Benn, the shadow Northern Ireland secretary, gives a speech.

4.20pm: Nesil Caliskan, leader of the Labour group on the Local Government Association, speaks. He will be followed by Joe Fortune, general secretary of the Cooperative party.

This blog will be mostly focused on Labour today, but there may be some brief coverage of two other developments in UK politics. In London, the supreme court hearing on the legality of the Rwanda deportation scheme starts. And Rishi Sunak is doing the media rounds today, holding a PM Connect Q&A in the morning, and doing an interview with Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 at 12.45pm.

If you want to contact me, do try the “send us a message” feature. You’ll see it just below the byline – on the left of the screen, if you are reading on a laptop or a desktop. This is for people who want to message me directly. I find it very useful when people message to point out errors (even typos – no mistake is too small to correct). Often I find your questions very interesting, too. I can’t promise to reply to them all, but I will try to reply to as many as I can, either in the comments below the line; privately (if you leave an email address and that seems more appropriate); or in the main blog, if I think it is a topic of wide interest.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2023/oct/09/labour-party-conference-rachel-reeves-planning-building-infrastructure-uk-politics-live Rachel Reeves says Labour will get rid of ‘obstacles created by antiquated planning system’ – UK politics live | Politics

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