Debate delayed after Labour MPs sign motion against proposed independent commission to make planning decisions on major infrastructure schemes

A Commons debate on proposed reforms to planning law has been delayed amid fears of a rebellion among Labour MPs.

Sixty Labour backbenchers have signed a motion against the proposal for an independent Infrastructure Planning Commission to take the final decision on major infrastructure projects.

Houses of Parliament

The proposal, which is contained in the Planning Bill, is also opposed by both UK opposition parties. To ward off the threat of a defeat, the government has rescheduled the next debate on the bill, which was due for next Monday, to give it time to reconsider the proposals.

The government wants to set up the proposed body in order to speed up planning decisions on major projects. It says these are happening too slowly, as in the case of Heathrow T5, which took seven years to gain approval.

However, the rebel MPs object that giving an independent commission the final say on major infrastructure projects would reduce accountability.

The debate is to be postponed for at least a week.

Commons leader Harriet Harman told MPs: “I think it is only right that if honourable members... raise questions about a bit of government legislation the appropriate thing to do is to reflect on what changes might need to be made.”