Page last updated at 22:14 GMT, Monday, 5 November 2012

Betts dismisses 'rag-bag' and 'centralising' Growth Bill

The government's "fundamentally centralising" Growth and Infrastructure Bill is a "rag-bag of measures which have not been thought through", Labour MP and chairman of the Communities Select Committee Clive Betts has said.

As MPs debated the Growth and Infrastructure Bill at second reading on 5 November 2012, Mr Betts criticised plans to change England's planning laws.

The reforms comprised "an attack on the fundamentals of our planning system" and there was "no evidence" that they were needed, he said.

"The likelihood," Mr Betts concluded, is that ministers "will abandon their principles without achieving any extra growth whatsoever".

But Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke predicted that the legislation would significantly boost investment in infrastructure.

"I particularly welcome clause 7, which deals with the speeding up of broadband infrastructure provision," he told MPs.

Mr Elphicke urged ministers to "tackle the abuse of the tax system" by large corporations to help cover public investment in infrastructure.

At the end of the debate, the Commons backed the bill by 305 votes to 213, a government majority of 92.

The bill is intended to reduce delays in the planning system.

Some infrastructure projects would be referred to the secretary of state, rather than local planning authorities, to be determined within a 12 month timetable.

The legislation also sets out a scheme, announced by Chancellor George Osborne at the Conservative Party conference, for workers at small businesses to trade employment rights for shares in their companies.

The bill would allow for planning obligations (section 106 agreements) relating to affordable housing to be renegotiated with the aim of making development economically viable again.

Section 106 agreements allow a local planning authority to enter into a legally-binding agreement or obligation with a land developer over a related issue, such as a requirement to build affordable social housing.

The bill also makes provision for a planned revaluation of business rates in England to be postponed.

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