More information on the Lords Select Committee April-May 2018

“The construction industry is vital to solving some of the pressing problems facing the UK, such as a lack of affordable housing and replacing ageing infrastructure. Whilst off-site manufacturing is not a new idea, the level of technology now available means it is much more viable as a modern method of construction than it might have been in the past.’ 

Chair of the Committee, Lord Patel.

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has announced an inquiry into offsite manufacture for construction and has issued a public call for evidence.

 This is the perfect opportunity for your organisation to submit evidence and respond to the enquiry to drive improvements and efficiencies in construction.

Lords Select Committees

Lords Select Committees do not shadow the work of government departments. Their investigations look into specialist subjects, taking advantage of the Lords’ expertise and the greater amount of time (compared to MPs) available to them to examine issues.
There are currently six major Lords Select Committees:
These six committees are re-appointed at the beginning of a new session. Each one runs inquiries and reports on issues within their specific areas. Ad hoc committees, such as the committee on Digital Skills, are set up to look at issues outside these subject areas.
The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee
The Science and Technology Committee has a broad remit “to consider science and technology”. It scrutinises Government policy by undertaking cross-departmental inquiries into a range of different activities. These include:
  • public policy areas which ought to be informed by scientific research (for example, health effects of air travel),
  • technological challenges and opportunities (for example, genomic medicine) and
  • public policy towards science itself (for example, setting priorities for publicly funded research).
In addition, the Committee undertakes from time to time shorter inquiries, either taking evidence from Ministers and officials on topical issues, or following up previous work.
Science and Technology Select Committee – membership
Members of the Committee were appointed on 27 June 2017.
Lord Patel (Chairman)
Lord Borwick
Lord Fox
Liberal Democrat
Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach
Lord Hunt of Chesterton
Lord Kakkar
Lord Mair
Lord Maxton
Baroness Morgan of Huyton
Baroness Neville-Jones
Lord Oxburgh
Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn
Lord Vallance of Tummel
Liberal Democrat
Baroness Young of Old Scone
Inquiry into Offsite Construction manufacture for construction
Scope of Inquiry
The Committee’s inquiry will consider the potential benefits of off-site manufacture for construction and any drawbacks or obstacles to its wider use. It will also consider how off-site manufacture might contribute to improving productivity within the construction industry and how it will fit in with the Construction sector deal announced by the Government. It will examine how Government policy, particularly around public procurement, might need to change to encourage economically and environmentally sustainable practises in the construction industry, which could facilitate off-site manufacture.
 In answering the questions below please provide practical examples where possible. If relevant, please state how you define off-site manufacture in your response.
Perceived advantages of offsite manufacture for construction
  1. What are the opportunities offered by offsite manufacture for construction? What are the likely drawbacks? What factors are likely to influence clients, architects, design engineers, contractors and the supply chain in deciding whether to choose offsite manufacture?
  2. It is often claimed that offsite manufacture can lead to:
  • lower costs, faster delivery and increased quality;
  • increased productivity;
  • improved health and safety;
  • greater provision of new, affordable housing.
What is the evidence for this?
Potential barriers to wider use of offsite manufacture
  1. What are the drawbacks to offsite manufacture for construction?
  2. What re-skilling of the construction workforce is required to facilitate a change to more off-site manufacture for construction?
  3. Can the benefits of standardisation and factory manufacture be realised without hampering architectural ambition? If so, how?
  4. What R&D is needed, and by whom, to realise fully the potential benefits of off-site manufacture?
Government actions
  1. (If published) does the construction sector deal correctly identify the issues faced by the construction industry and the actions that the Government and other stakeholders need to take to address them? What should it contain/what is missing?
  2. What changes could be made to public procurement processes to encourage more economically and environmentally sustainable practises in the construction industry and facilitate off-site manufacture?