I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak in this debate, but, alas, I fear the Opposition have misjudged the mood of this House and the country by using parliamentary time for their own political flare-up and indignation. Last December, the Labour party lost vast swathes of support across the country because it came across as completely disconnected from the people and communities that traditionally turned out en masse to support it. Far be it from me to offer political advice to the Opposition, but this debate’s very existence demonstrates that that disconnection is terminal. The Labour party has completely forgone the opportunity to scrutinise the Government’s economic plans to recover from coronavirus.
It is a pleasure to follow Opposition Members, but I fear that they all have a foggy memory and a worrying lack of understanding about the planning process. It is not unusual for Housing Secretaries to call in planning decisions, just as the last Labour Government regularly did, nor is it new or unusual to overrule the Planning Inspectorate on careful and balanced consideration. As for the decision under scrutiny today, the only reason why this issue required a ministerial decision at all was that Tower Hamlets Council repeatedly failed to make a determination in the first place, cancelling five meetings to ensure that they did not make a decision. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, the planning system has robust protections and safeguards in place to ensure the rule of law and the absence of bias.