HM Opposition Day: Fracking a motion to Bring forward a Bill.

HM Opposition tabled a motion that would guarantee parliamentary time for a bill to ban fracking. 

The debate was called to provide the House with the right, which it should have, to make the decision on whether fracking should be allowed to restart across our country. The Business Secretary made it clear last week that he will not give the House a binding vote on the principle of the fracking ban, despite the Conservatives overturning their manifesto promise to keep the ban in place, despite the concern in all parts of this House and despite the concerns of the public. If our motion is passed, it will mean that on 29 November, in six weeks’ time, the House will debate a fracking Bill. We have done this because we know what would have happened if we had had a simple Opposition Day motion on fracking. The Government would simply have abstained and ignored the vote, as they have done in votes on the windfall tax, fire and rehire, and the cut to universal credit, and as they will no doubt try to do with the motion that has just been passed. This is about faith in politics. The Government are seeking to break their manifesto promise without even getting the consent of this House. Today, we give all Members a chance to make this crucial decision on fracking.

The full text of the motion: ” That this House calls on the Government to introduce a ban on hydraulic fracking for shale gas.” 

I voted for the motion, Ayes: 230 and Noes: 326 but the motion was lost.

The Government also tabled an amendment:  (a) Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg  : Leave out from “Government” in line 1 to end and insert “to consult to ensure there is a robust system of local consent, and clear advice on seismic limits and safety, before any hydraulic fracturing for shale gas may take place; and believes that such consultation must consider how the views of regional mayors, local authorities and parishes should be reflected as well as the immediate concerns of those most directly affected.”

Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 31(2)), That the proposed words be there added. So the amendment was added.

There was confusion among the Government’s MPs as the Government had placed a three-line whip against the main motion, effectively turning it into a confidence motion in the Government. However, shortly before the vote, a minister said in the chamber that the vote was no longer confidence motion in the Government. Some members were told that if they voted for the Motion they would be suspended from the Conservative party. It seems this was not communicated to the Chief Whip who appeared to have resigned but then asked to stay on by the PM. Many Government MPs abstained but there was a confusion as to whether the Motion was a confidence motion or not leaving many Conservative MPs bewildered.  The ban on fracking was in the Government’s manifesto in 2019 but was rejected by PM Truss’ Government.