DrillOrDrop’s weekly digest from the UK’s parliaments returns after the local and the general elections with peers quizzing the government on its shale gas policy.
In this week’s post:
- Baroness Jones warns against police monitoring of anti-fracking campaigners and questions minister on Lancashire policing
- Baroness Royall congratulates anti-fracking supporters in the Forest of Dean
- Peers and MPs question the government on its energy policy
- MP’s maiden speech says fracking is “against all sense and wishes of constituents”
This post will be updated throughout the week. Here you can find transcripts of speeches, questions and answers about fracking and the UK onshore oil and gas industry. Thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com for the transcripts.
Thursday 29 June 2017
Question by Catherine West
Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the Government’s policy is on fracking.
Reply by Richard Harrington
Conservative, Watford, Energy minister
Shale gas could create a new British industry, provide more jobs and make us less reliant on imports from abroad. The UK has over 50 years’ experience regulating the onshore oil and gas industry, and the Government supports safe and environmentally sound exploration to determine the potential of the UK’s shale gas resources.
Extract of maiden speech by Tonia Antoniazzi
Gower is unlike any other constituency in the United Kingdom, with its peninsula in the south being the first in the UK to be designated an area of outstanding natural beauty, in 1956. The fact that Conservative Members wish to allow fracking under that fragile landscape goes against all sense and the wishes of my constituents. Fracking does not just affect the countryside or the surface site of the frack; it would occur underneath towns and villages, including old industrial areas of Gower and estuary areas.
Wednesday 28 June 2017
Written questions on policing of anti-fracking protests in Lancashire
Questions by Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Home Office:
- Has been briefed by Lancashire Police on that force’s strategy for meeting its duty to both facilitate and protect rights to freedom of assembly.
- Has been briefed by Lancashire Police on the action which that force intends to take after the anti-fracking protests at Preston New Road have ended.
- Has produced any briefings on the anti-fracking protests at Preston New Road; and if so, whether they will publish those briefings.
Reply by Baroness Williams of Trafford
The Minister of State, Home Department
The management of protests, including anti-fracking protests, is an operational and independent matter for the police. The Home Office has not issued any guidance or briefings to the police on this matter.
As lead Government Department for the national risk of public disorder, the Home Office routinely receives briefings from police forces on related issues.
Tuesday 27 June 2017
House of Lords Debate on the Queen’s Speech (4th day)
Extract of speech by Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb
I would welcome any legislation being brought forward that kept the police and the security services focused on the real problem of terrorism and serious crime rather than their wasting time and our money monitoring green campaigners, anti-fracking protesters, journalists and elected politicians. The Government’s manifesto said that they would consider what new offences or aggravated offences might be needed, but I recommend that your Lordships’ House block any legislation that does not include a clear definition of an extremist.
Monday 26 June 2017
House of Lords Debate on the Queen’s Speech (3rd day)
Extract of speech by Lord Fox
Lib Dem Lords Spokesperson on business, energy and industrial strategy
There was an eye-catching provision in the Conservative Party manifesto—it is not the one that noble Lords are thinking of—that pointed to the formation of a future Britain sovereign wealth fund, largely funded from shale gas extraction revenues. Will the Minister tell your Lordships’ House whether this fund is still planned and just how much money he expects to be in it by the end of this Parliament? If there is any money in this fund, what will it be used for?
Extract of speech by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon
I live in the Forest of Dean, and am immensely proud that, despite the Government’s best efforts, the community has mobilised and we have a fracking-free area. We need a sustainable energy policy, which includes a ban on fracking, a practice which is harmful both for meeting our climate change obligations and for the environment.
I finish where I began. This country is deeply divided, and there is a growing sense of anxiety and frustration. No matter what the Minister might say, the measures contained in the gracious Speech will not enable our businesses and economy to reach the potential desperately needed at this critical time, and will not lead to the much-needed improvement in the lives of our fellow citizens. This Government are failing the country and failing its people, who deserve a more confident future, with hope for themselves and hope for their children.
Extract of speech by Baroness Featherstone
Lib Dem Lords Spokesperson on energy and climate change
What of energy and energy prices? If we really want to help to lower bills, a cap will not do it. Improving home insulation and encouraging local renewable energy schemes will, combined with an ambition for 30% of the household market to have their needs met by entrant competitors by 2022. Take that, big six. When we build all the houses that the Government are promising, energy saving should be a top priority. The Government very stupidly removed the zero-carbon homes measure, but that is what would slash bills, cut emissions and boost jobs. Government reliance on fracking is so wrong-headed that I need a whole debate on that one.
Extract of speech by Lord Truscott, non-affiliated
Vice-chair of All Party Group on Shale Gas Regulation and Planning and former energy minister
Comparing the recent Tory manifesto to the gracious Speech, I am somewhat perplexed by Her Majesty’s Government’s invisible energy strategy. If this is what strong and stable government looks like, I can only be grateful that your Lordships’ House avoided a coalition of chaos. For example, media reports before the gracious Speech said that the Government had abandoned their commitment to UK shale gas development. I hope that the Minister—who is not in his place at the moment—can reassure or otherwise the House, at least until the next U-turn.
The Conservative manifesto stated that legislation would be introduced to permit non-fracking drilling as a permitted development; major shale planning decisions would be the responsibility of the national planning regime; there would be a new shale environmental regulator; and there would be changes to the proposed shale wealth fund. Now these are all apparently out of the window. Are Her Majesty’s Government still committed to shale in England, have they been won over by Labour’s argument that fracking should be banned, as it is in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, or do they simply believe they cannot get the legislation through Parliament?