Parliament’s only just back from Easter recess and already there’s a threat of rebellion in the Commons. The Growth and Infrastructure Bill returns to the Commons tomorrow afternoon for ‘ping-pong’, and a number of MPs are agitated about an amendment that passed as a result of a rebellion in the Upper Chamber. In March, the Lords passed an amendment from Tory peer Lord True which would allow councils to opt out of a policy giving homeowners the right to extend their homes without planning permission. The government is naturally seeking to overturn that amendment, but Tory MPs aren’t convinced. They worry that the policy will decrease the quality of homes in their constituencies, leading to the erosion of green spaces in the form of back gardens, and making the whole place feel a bit more cramped.
So to try to assuage a rebellion in the Commons tomorrow, I’m told planning minister Nick Boles is having what one MP described to me as a ‘love-in’ with Tory backbenchers tonight, where he’ll attempt to sell the virtues of this policy in promoting growth, and answer awkward questions from colleagues about why they should support it. Ministers made a big fuss of it when they announced it in September: they’ll want to limit the potential for trouble as much as they possibly can.