A crucial Commons vote on planning reforms was yesterday delayed by a fortnight by the government, putting off a confrontation with Labour rebels until 23 June.
The Department for Communities and Local Government insisted the move did not presage a climbdown by Gordon Brown. The prime minister is facing backbench demands to change the bill to allow a ministerial veto over applications for major infrastructure, such as new nuclear power stations. Business is lobbying hard for the government to stick to its proposal to allow such applications to be decided by a planning commission.
Officials said the unusual decision to delay the vote was a reaction to criticisms of the speed with which the legislation was being put through parliament.