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Labour set to back Office for Resource Management

The Labour Party is preparing to endorse calls for an Office for Resource Management (ORM) by incorporating plans for a new body to oversee resource security in its manifesto for the general election, MRW understands.

This weekend, the Liberal Democrats’ policy-making conference in Liverpool is also expected to back plans to beef up the Natural Capital Committee, an existing advisory body, to “ensure that policies relating to waste are consistent, green and do not place too much burden on individuals or businesses”.

Such a move would also be expected to appeal to Labour’s leader Ed Miliband who, from 2008-10, was climate change secretary under the last Labour Government.

In Westminster on Thursday, the Material Security Working Group (MSWG), which includes the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, the Institution of Civil Engineers and other groups, published a report calling on the party or parties forming the next Government to establish an ORM within BIS but working across departments.

According to MSWG, this unit would “entrench the importance of resource security, efficiency and husbandry in Government thinking”.

Representatives of the main parties were at the launch of the report, including Barry Gardiner, Labour’s shadow environment minister, who gave a strong hint on the issue when asked if the party would endorse an ORM.

His first answer was that a more senior politician would soon be making a policy statement on resource security. Gardiner, a front bench spokesman on the environment, later told his audience: “I have indicated there will be an announcement coming shortly from people who have far more clout in the party than me. I trust that it won’t be an announcement that is in any way fundamentally disappointing to you.”

Earlier, Laura Sandys, a Conservative who has supported ‘green’ issues and is standing down at the general election, said: “The opportunities around the whole reuse, resourfulness and resilience and productivity have not really been bottomed out in Government.”

An ORM, she said, would offer a chance to benchmark the UK against other leading economies. She said the only time material security had been raised “at the highest level” was around the situation in Ukraine.

“Crises are not the time to make policies but crises are the time to be exploited by good thinking, good ideas and good policy – so go for it!”  

* This article was amended on 18 March 2015 to more accurately reflect the Liberal Democrat’s position.

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