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Fracking week in Westminster (24th-28th March)

1st April 2014

Transcripts of last week’s parliamentary questions and statements on the discussions about shale gas at the European Council and Nuclear Security Summit.

With thanks to theyworkforyou.com


Statement to the House of Commons by David Cameron
The Council agreed to encourage that by doing more to cut red tape, attract investment, stimulate innovation and pioneer more work on reducing energy costs, including shale gas….

I also pushed hard on the need to reduce Europe’s dependency on energy from Russia. The G7 agreed that energy Ministers would meet ahead of the Brussels summit, and the European Council tasked the Commission to produce a comprehensive plan for reducing Europe’s dependency on Russia by June. This work is long term but vital. It requires new gas pipelines, new liquefied natural gas terminals, more shale gas, more sources from outside Russia and greater connectivity. Above all, it requires political will and I am determined that, although the UK has almost no reliance on Russian gas, we should play our part in this important work.

Question by Mark Menzies (Fylde, Conservative)
The Prime Minister has set out the role that shale gas can play in UK and European energy security, but can he assure me and my constituents that we will not develop shale gas unless we are sure that it is safe, with safety enshrined in a robust regulatory framework?

Answer by David Cameron, Prime Minister
I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. I am convinced that we can develop shale gas in a way that is safe, and in a way that provides useful supplies of gas and can benefit local communities. I think we should look carefully at what has happened in the United States. The overwhelming lesson from the United States is that this can be done, and it can be a real bonus for local communities and for our country.

House of Lords debate
Question by Lord Howell of Guildford (Conservative)
Turning to energy issues, does my noble friend accept that while it makes obvious good sense to build a better infrastructure for energy connectors throughout Europe so that oil and gas can flow and markets can work, we need to be rather careful about allowing too much centralisation and dictation of energy policy at national level by the EU?

Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford (Conservative)
I agree very strongly with my noble friend on that and with the distinction he draws. It is one of the reasons that, when the European Council was looking towards targets for 2030, Britain made very clear its case that any such target does not bind the behaviour of individual member states or constrain their flexibility in how they go about doing so.

The other point that emerged from the discussions, of which I hope my noble friend will approve, is the emphasis on seeking to develop other sources of energy—whether that is shale gas or other developments—which will reduce our dependency, and the EU’s dependency, on Russia, which is clearly very much to be desired.

Question by Lord Lawson of Blaby (Conservative)
My Lords, I welcome the Prime Minister’s recognition that it is necessary and desirable to press ahead as fast as possible with the development of the UK’s indigenous shale gas resources, not merely because it will be good for the economy, but on geopolitical grounds because it will lessen the West’s reliance on Russian gas. However, is it not shameful that so far there has been only one exploratory well drilled in this country and that the industry is clear that the reason for the snail’s pace of progress is the mind-boggling bureaucratic complexity of the regulatory system in this country? Is it not time that the Government put their money where their mouth is and sorted this out?

Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford (Conservative)
I agree with my noble friend’s point on the contribution that shale gas can make to the geopolitical balance of power and to increasing our collective independence, which I think is absolutely right. I also agree with him about the other benefits that it could bring to the economy, and the sooner we can crack on with it, the better

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