New government haggles over policy pledges

14 May 2010

14 May 2010 | Lindsay Clark

Compromises over which procurement promises will become policy have already been reached as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats formed a coalition government this week.

The Lib Dems had pledged not the replace the UK Trident nuclear submarines, however, the Conservatives appear to have won the debate and the new government is committed to purchase a replacement capability.

A joint policy statement says: “The government will be committed to the maintenance of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, and have agreed the renewal of Trident should be scrutinised to ensure value for money. Liberal Democrats will continue to make the case for alternatives.”

Nuclear power stations also became a Lib Dem concession, the new energy secretary Chris Huhne admitted the building of new plant would probably go ahead. His party had previously argued renewable energy should take priority over nuclear power.

The Conservative election promise to save £6 billion from public spending in the current financial year is set to become policy, despite Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg deriding it as “plant pots and paper clips” during a televised election debate.

Efficiency savings in the NHS look set to exceed the £20 billion already announced by Labour, according to the new health secretary Andrew Lansley. The deadline for the savings was 2014, but the service needs to do more because of increased demand and the need to improve the outcomes, Lansley told the BBC.

Lib Dem green policies seem to have fared better in negotiations. Adopted policies such as high-speed rail links, measures to encourage marine energy, promotion of fuel production from anaerobic digestion could all involve procurement.

Meanwhile, a plan to build a third runway at Heathrow is set to be scrapped.

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