MPs overturn Lords defeats on shares-for-rights and planning reform

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MPs have backed the government's plans to allow businesses to offer shares to their employees in return for reduced employment rights, and to relax planning rules on home extensions.

Both policies had been rejected in the House of Lords.

But on 16 April 2013, as MPs considered Lords amendments to the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, the Commons agreed to reinstate them.

Business Minister insisted the shares-for-rights scheme represented a good deal, particularly for new businesses.

Under the proposals, employers will be able to offer to swap some employments rights, including those relating to redundancy, for at least £2,000 of shares.

Mr Fallon said the scheme would be "wholly voluntary" and unveiled a concession that he said would ensure that anyone on Jobseeker's Allowance would not be sanctioned for refusing to accept a job offer contingent on participation in the shares-for-rights scheme.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna welcomed this concession, but said Labour would continue to oppose the principle of the policy, arguing that it was "an ill-thought-out and bad idea".

MPs backed the coalition by 277 votes to 239, a reduced government majority of 38, and the policy will now face renewed scrutiny in the Lords.

In subsequent exchanges on the bill, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles sought to appease Conservative MPs unhappy with proposals contained within it on planning reform.

He promised to meet backbench rebels to find a compromise on the proposed introduction of a three-year relaxation of the depth of allowed single-storey extensions, from 4m (13ft 1.5in) to 8m (26ft 3in) for detached houses and from 3m (9ft 10in) to 6m (19ft 8in) for all other houses.

Conservative MPs, including Zac Goldsmith, have warned that the change will lead to an increased number of disputes between neighbours.

But the Commons again backed the government, this time by 286 votes to 259, a majority of 27.

Most of the provisions in the bill will apply only in England.

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