George Osborne hires ex-Labour minister Lord Adonis to spearhead efforts to get Britain building

Chancellor George Osborne has recruited former Labour minister Lord Adonis to spearhead efforts to get Britain building again.

Adonis - a former transport secretary and one of the most high-profile figures in New Labour under Tony Blair - will chair the newly created National Infrastructure Division (NIC).

The body will advise the Government on road, rail, housing and energy projects.

Lord Adonis will resign the Labour whip to sit as a crossbench peer in the House of Lords.

Mr Osborne is expected to go into more detail about the peer's role in his speech at the Conservative conference on Monday.

Here's everything we know so far.

What is the National Infrastructure Board?

The Chancellor wants to take the politics out of major infrastructure decisions - hence the creation of this independent Commision.

The new body is modelled on Sir Howard Davies' Airports Commission, according to Treasury sources.

Mr Osborne said Britain needed to be shaken out of the "inertia" which has led to underinvestment in roads, railways, airports, power stations and homes.

What will it do?

The Commision will focus on improving links between Northern cities. Credit: PA Wire

The body will start work immediately with its first focus being on how to improve links between Northern cities.

It will advise on large-scale investment in London's transport network, as well as providing a power storage, interconnection and demand management system suited to the demands of the 21st century.

The Adonis Commission will also produce a report at the start of each five-year parliament, containing recommendations of projects which governments - whatever political allegiance - should be pushing forward.

Its recommendations will not be binding.

However, George Osborne has said the body will be able to hold the Government's feet to the fire" if they fail to act on its advice.

Hold on - wasn't this a Labour idea?

Yes it was in the party's manifesto for the May general election - a fact Mr Osborne is expected to acknowledge in his speech on Monday.

Observers suggest the chancellor - considered one of the favourites to lead the Tories once David Cameron steps down before the 2020 election - was stealing Labour's more mainstream ideas to consolidate the Tories' hold on the political centre ground following Jeremy Corbyn's leadership victory.

Asked whether this was the case, an aide said: "The Chancellor is open to good ideas."

Who is Lord Adonis?

The former transport secretary pictured in 2009. Credit: PA Wire

Lord Adonis is regarded as one of the most prominent figures in the New Labour movement under Tony Blair's stewardship.

He served as transport secretary in Gordon Brown's administration.

The peer was previously a Social Democrat councillor and Liberal Democrat election candidate before joining Labour.

What's he said about his new job?

That he was "pleased" to accept Mr Osborne's invitation to lead the NIC, but that a lot of work was needed to ensure Britain did not "grind to a halt".

So the Tories are pretty happy about snapping up Adonis?

Chancellor George Osborne. Credit: Reuters

Most definitely.

George Osborne said he was "delighted" to appoint Lord Adonis and was excited to be working with him "in the national interest".

An aide to the Chancellor revealed that he had long admired Adonis' work on promoting the controversial HS2 high-speed rail link and the Crossrail tunnel in London.

So has the peer effectively defected?

Sources insist Lord Adonis' move is not a defection, ITV News' Chris Ship said.

What else has George Osborne announced?

George Osborne has vowed to get Britain building again. Credit: PA Wire

The announcement of the NIC is just one of Chancellor George Osborne's "four-point plan" to get Britain "building for the future".

Other points include:

  • A proposal to combine 89 local authority pension funds in England and Wales into six regional British Wealth Funds to increase infrastructure investment

  • Plans to scrap rules preventing the development of brownfield sites in a bid to increase the supply of homes for sale

  • A pledge to increase infrastructure spending by up to £5 billion over the course of the Parliament, with cash from the sale of land, buildings and other state assets to be recycled to fund new projects.

What will Mr Osborne say in his conference speech?

He will seek to portray the Conservatives as the real "party of the workers" in his speech to conference on Monday.

What has Labour said about the Commision and Lord Adonis' move?

A spokesperson for new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said:

Labour frontbencher Pat McFadden described Lord Adonis as a "huge talent", saying he did not believe the former minister was leaving the party.

"I understand he may be resigning the Labour whip and not leaving the Labour Party.

"I would not want him to leave the Labour Party because he is a big talent, he has got a lot to offer and he has got a record of achievement in government."

How have business leaders reacted?

CBI director general John Cridland welcomed the new independent commission.