Skip to content

UK chancellor: better infrastructure is part of 'national mission'

07 February 2024

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt praised the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure (APPGI) and the ICE for changing the debate on the importance of infrastructure.

UK chancellor: better infrastructure is part of 'national mission'
The ICE welcomed the chancellor to a parliamentary reception on 6 February 2024. L-R: UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt MP, ICE director general Janet Young and APPGI chair Andrew Jones MP

UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt spoke about the importance of engineering in achieving national ambitions at a special event at the ICE’s headquarters in London this week.

The chancellor was among over 100 parliamentarians and infrastructure leaders who joined the ICE on Tuesday 6 February for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Infrastructure (APPGI) 2024 reception.

Made up of MPs and peers from across the political spectrum, the APPGI convenes industry and government stakeholders and champions the importance of economic infrastructure in the UK.

“The ICE has supported the APPGI since its inception in 2009,” ICE director general Janet Young told guests at the reception.

“During that time, there’s been a growing political recognition of the importance of infrastructure.

“It’s so important to work with government to give society the infrastructure it needs, especially during this general election year.”

‘The debate is changing’

The chancellor thanked the APPGI, its chair Andrew Jones MP, and the ICE for “changing the way that we think about infrastructure”.

“One of the great transformations we can be proud of is the rise in status of engineering over the last 20 or 30 years,” the chancellor said.

“It's long been a national weakness how we under-invest in infrastructure compared to other, similar countries. But I think that debate has really changed.”

Productivity ‘has to be our national mission’

The chancellor stated that while the UK’s productivity was 15% less than countries such as Germany and America, its economy has grown faster than Germany’s since 2010, thanks to its innovation industries.

“Can you imagine if we had German levels of productivity alongside our great tradition of innovation?” he asked. “That has to be our national mission. Having better infrastructure is part of that.”

Bringing the public on the net zero journey

The annual reception also saw the launch of the ICE and APPGI’s latest joint policy paper.

The paper, What are the public behavioural changes required to meet net zero?, explores how policy interventions can better support the public to make low- and no-carbon choices.

According to the Climate Change Committee (CCC), public choice will affect over 65% of carbon emission reductions between now and 2035.

The UK public will play a crucial part in the net zero journey – but they need the policies and infrastructure systems to support them.

Unveiling the report to guests, APPGI chair Andrew Jones said:

“The APPGI works by using our capacity to convene, bringing industry, academics, policymakers, and politicians to make practical recommendations, and we’re doing just that today.

“Net zero has been a priority of the group for a while, but the debate has moved on from the ‘why’ to the ‘how’.

“The government will play a role through leadership, investment, and long-term decisions. But the millions – billions – of decisions people make each day are critical. How do we help them make the right ones?”

Why this is important

The ICE is a charitable organisation with a duty to act for the public good.

As part of this duty, the ICE provides independent policy insight and advice to policymakers from across the political spectrum on a wide range of infrastructure issues.

Infrastructure is of fundamental importance to decarbonisation, energy security, social equity, economic growth, and more. As we approach a UK general election this year, it’s important that these issues are at the forefront of the national conversation.

The ICE’s work with the APPGI influences discussion and debate among all UK political parties about how economic infrastructure can best serve people and the planet.

The chancellor’s attendance at this event shows that the government acknowledges the ICE’s value as both a forum for these discussions and a source of professional insight.

Whoever leads, the ICE will continue to work closely with the government to ensure our members’ work delivers the highest possible economic, environmental, and social value.

Find out more about our emerging policy programme on day one infrastructure priorities for the next UK parliament.

  • Ben Gosling, speechwriter and policy content manager at ICE