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PRIVATE FINANCE WORKING GROUP - FIRST MEETING

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The Chancellor of the Exchequer's Private Finance Working Group met today for the first time under the chairmanship...
The Chancellor of the Exchequer's Private Finance Working Group met today for the first time under the chairmanship of Sir Alastair Morton, a statement from the Treasury said.

Opening the meeting, the Chancellor, the Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP, promised his personal backing for the Group's work: 'The aim of the private finance initiative is to improve the flow of capital investment in public services by attracting much more private sector capital into those services. The Group's sole measure of success will be the number of new projects which it stimulates. I am confident that under Sir Alastair's stewardship, the Group will more than fulfil this remit.'

Sir Alastair Morton said: 'We are lucky to have recruited a senior and experienced group from private and public sectors. The members have access to and will be canvassing the views and expertise of associates and of many more involved in the wide variety of projects whose progress we shall be following.

'In particular, financial advisers in the City will be invited to urge their expert views upon us. For that reason I have avoided inviting any of them to join the Working Group, as I do not wish to inhibit the flow of those views.

'The Working Group's job is to encourage a growing flow of private capital into public service and infrastructure projects, and to ensure total commitment on all sides to the success of the Chancellor's initiative.

'Consumers, contractors, financiers and suppliers want the better services and facilities that adequate investment can bring. That means harnessing the world's capital markets to well-fashioned projects. We will not make or execute the projects: our task is to facilitate the conditions and the partnerships that will.'

In addition to the introductory meeting with the Chancellor, the Working Group discussed its future workload and working methods, and had a preliminary discussion of the competition issue, in the light of the Treasury's consultation note 'Competition and the Private Finance Initiative', published in September.

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