8 July 2004
Public Orator, Professor
Ron McCaffer presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony
held on Thursday 8 July 2004 at 3.00pm.
Chancellor, Mayor of
Charnwood, Ladies and Gentlemen and especially today New Graduates
of Loughborough University.
It is a particular
pleasure to welcome our honorary graduand, both a national and
local figure, on today of all days when so many of you our new
graduates are from construction disciplines. Sir Michael Latham
is a name that your our new graduates in construction, civil engineering
and quantity surveying will all undoubtedly recognise, at least
from your required reading, but more so from his towering presence
in your chosen industry. Sir Michael Latham is a man that has
shaped your industry and contributed to making it a source of
attractive employment in which to build your careers.
The Latham report 1994
‘Constructing the Team’ a joint industry – government
report was based on the simple concept that through teamwork the
construction industry could delight its customers. The report
acted as a wake up with all the urgency of an emergency siren.
This was a report that had to be listened too, the industry couldn’t
but help but hear the cries for reform. The industry was ‘ineffective’,
‘adversarial’, ‘fragmented’, ‘incapable
of delivering for its customers’ and ‘lacking respect
for its employees’. More than just ringing alarm bells the
Latham report set the agenda for reform and gave the industry
targets. From this a raft of initiatives flowed. The report led
to the establishment of the Construction Industry Board to oversee
reform and subsequent initiatives were the Egan report 1998 ‘Re-thinking
construction’; the Construction Best Practice Programme’,
‘The Movement for Innovation’ and ‘Constructing
Excellence’. All designed to drive the industry forward.
Construction is a large
sector in our economy with an output of over £60bn, representing
8% of GDP. There are few with the temerity to try to reform such
a large industry. There are even fewer with the ability to succeed.
Sir Michael continues to play a leading role in the industry as
Chairman of the Construction Industry Training Board, of Construction
Skills, the Sector Skills Council for Construction, Deputy Chairman
of Willmott Dixon Limited, Chairman of the Collaborative Working
Centre Limited and Non-Executive Deputy Chairman of BIW Technologies.
He chairs Partnership Sourcing, a company established in association
with the CBI and the DTI, is president of a trade federation and
chairman of several committees of national organisations concerned
with the construction industry.
So how did a 1964 Cambridge
history graduate with an MA in 1968, a Certificate in Education
from Oxford in 1965 achieve such an impact on construction. The
answer lies in the Sir Michael’s education roots which provided
him the skills to educate construction and commitment to succeed
came from his natural evangelical zeal developed as a lay preacher.
The road he travelled to reach the platform from which to launch
his reform of the industry was through politics.
From 1965 he served
in the Conservative Research Department, moved into the National
Federation of Building Trades Employers in 1967, and began an
engagement with the construction industry which has lasted ever
since. He was appointed Director of the National House Builders’
Federation in 1971. In 1974, he entered Parliament as Member for
Melton, a constituency bordering onto Loughborough. After boundary
changes in 1983 this became Rutland and Melton. He served as an
MP until 1992. On a personal note I was one of his constituents
who actually consulted him at his surgery in Quorn. For all of
his 18 years as an MP, Michael Latham was an active and valued
member of the Court of this University.
In 2001, Sir Michael
extended his connections with this University when he agreed to
become the first President of the European Construction Institute,
which was founded and remains based here at the University. ECI
is unique as a trans-national learning network bringing together
over 70 major companies from six countries with the aim of improving
the performance of the construction industry throughout Europe.
The role of the President was intended to be titular, a figure
head, representing the values of ECI. But not for Sir Michael,
his approach has been one of enthusiasm, commitment and dedicated
effort. He saw ECI’s strengths in its powerful network,
he saw its potential to improve a continent wide industry, he
also saw its weaknesses and the need to build a wide profile for
ECI throughout Europe and to re-position and re-launch ECI for
its second decade.
As he had provided
leadership for the whole construction industry he has provided
leadership for ECI revising and reshaping its ambitions and activities.
Sir Michael has received
many honours, with honorary degrees including Leicester, Nottingham
Trent, Birmingham and Northumbria universities. He is an honorary
fellow of nine professional institutions –including the
prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering, the others being the
Royal Institute of British Architects, the Institution of Civil
Engineers, the Chartered Institute of Building ,the Chartered
Institute of Purchasing & Supply, the Institute of Building
Control, the Architects & Surveyors Institute, the Royal Incorporation
of Architects in Scotland and the Landscape Institute and is also
an honorary member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
He is a Deputy Lieutenant of Leicestershire. He was knighted in
Sir Michael is married to Caroline and has two sons.. They are
with us here today and we welcome them to witness our honouring
of a national figure who changed the construction industry and
who has served us here in our local community and in our University.
Chancellor, I am proud
to present to your and the University Sir Michael Latham, for
the degree of Doctor of Technology, honoris causa.