A Tynwald debate on the east area plan came to a sudden halt this morning - when the motion was unexpectedly withdrawn.

Members had debated the plan throughout the afternoon and evening sittings yesterday.

But this morning, 33 minutes after the debate resumed - and more than five hours after it began, Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer stood up to announce, rather falteringly: ’Mr President I would like to ask for a vote to bring back the motion for the next, for the next [sitting], to withdraw and bring back in November.’

Members responded with a series of ’thank yous’.

But in a statement Chief Minister Howard Quayle said: ’In offering an extension to all members for a month I would like to clarify that the plan cannot be changed.

’We can give reassurances about how things will work going forward but if members feel they want the plan changed they are wasting their time with an extension.’

Much of yesterday’s afternoon session was taken up with a debate on a call by Bill Shimmins (Middle) for the motion to be adjourned until November next year so it could take into account the results of the next census.

That amendment failed to carry and with member after member lined up to speak, President Steve Rodan said he was prepared for Tynwald to sit on Friday and even Monday if necessary to complete the debate.

Critics of the area plan say large areas of greenbelt will be lost to housing development - and it is based on widely over-optimistic forecasts of population growth.