The man who oversaw the successful delivery of this summer's Olympics is to help Labour draw up plans to "rebuild Britain for the future", shadow chancellor Ed Balls has announced.
Olympic Delivery Authority chairman Sir John Armitt has been appointed to devise plans for an independent commission which would assess and make proposals for long-term infrastructure projects, such as superfast broadband, nuclear power, a renewed National Grid, wind and tidal power plants, flood defences and new rail and airport capacity.
Mr Balls told Labour's annual conference in Manchester that the commission will help take the politics out of major decisions which will impact on Britain for decades to come, creating "a comprehensive long-term plan to rebuild Britain's infrastructure for the 21st century and a cross-party consensus to deliver it".
The announcement came as Mr Balls spelt out his plan to give the economy a short-term boost by spending the anticipated £4 billion windfall from the sell-off next year of the superfast internet spectrum to boost the housing market and construction jobs.
He called on the Government to give a temporary stamp duty holiday to first-time home-buyers to revive the sluggish housing market. With 119,000 construction jobs lost in two years and a 68% fall in the number of affordable homes being built, there is an "urgent" need to kick-start the economy, said Mr Balls in his keynote speech to the conference.
"This is what I propose," he said. "The Government is anticipating a windfall of up to £4 billion from the sale of the 4G mobile phone spectrum. In the good times, Labour used every penny of the £22 billion from the sale of the 3G licences to pay off national debt. But in difficult times, we urgently need to put something back into the economy.
"So with this one-off windfall from the sale of the 4G spectrum, let's cut through this Government's dither and rhetoric and actually do something. Not more talk, but action right now.
"Let's use that money from the 4G sale and build over the next two years 100,000 new homes - affordable homes to rent and to buy - creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and getting our construction industry moving again. Add to that a stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers buying homes up to £250,000 and we can deliver real help for people aspiring to get on the property ladder."
Mr Balls ridiculed the coalition Government for its agonised debates over infrastructure projects such as high-speed rail, the third runway at Heathrow Airport and renewable energy, which have pitted David Cameron and George Osborne against fellow Tories such as Boris Johnson and Zac Goldsmith.
But he acknowledged that Labour governments too have been bedevilled by delays and indecision over projects such as the Channel Tunnel rail link and the Crossrail line in London.