From the Hansard Report of yesterday's debate, the second reading of the Housing and Planning Bill was every bit as lively as one might expect from a flagship piece of legislation.
In one particularly memorable paragraph, quoted below, Nick Herbert, the Conservative MP for Arundel and the South Downs compared the tension between the Government's commitment to localism and the drive to increase house building in England, with Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novella - The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
The conflict between the desire to empower local decision making in the planning system and the need to deal with the UK's housing shortage is nothing new and it will be interesting to see if the government's proposals to deal with it (summarised in full in my firm's briefing note published last month) make it through parliament unscathed.
Despite yesterday's heated debate the Housing and Planning Bill is on its way the Public Bills Committee and, for now at least, remains more or less in its original form.
The Public Bills Committee is due to conclude it's review of the Bill on Thursday 10 December 2015, when it shall have it's third reading in the Commons before heading up to the House of Lords.
The recent tax credits debate has demonstrated that the House of Lords is willing to take a strong stance on draft legislation if it is considered necessary. As such, the Housing and Planning Bill could be in for an interesting journey through parliament.
That policy ambivalence is perhaps reflected in a split personality on the part of the Government. Kindly Dr Jekyll rightly comes to the House to say that regional spatial strategies are to be scrapped, but at night the Treasury doors are unlocked and Mr Hyde emerges .... Kindly Dr Jekyll believes in neighbourhood planning and wants to speed it up, but evil Mr Hyde is allowing a system where speculative planning applications can be allowed against the wishes of local communities. Kindly Dr Jekyll remains committed to a plan-led system, but Mr Hyde, in this Bill, is allowing the Secretary of State to take powers to grant planning permission directly for major infrastructure projects and give permission in principle, perhaps not just on brownfield land, but for other sites too. We need clarity about that.