Monday’s proceedings in Parliament were more chaotic than usual!
Yesterday I joined 51 colleagues and, confirming my opposition to fracking in Somerset on principle, I rebelled against the Government, voting for a moratorium - or 'freeze' - on fracking.
Unfortunately, the Labour Party sat on its hands and didn’t vote for the moritorium, although it claimed it was supporting this as endorsed by the Environmental Audit Committee’s Report published yesterday morning.
Interestingly, two of Britain’s biggest unions – the GMB and Unite - weighed in yesterday morning, begging Labour MPs not to support a ban on fracking. This may go some way to explaining the confusion over what was happening in the House of Commons and Labour’s 180˚ about-turn.
Over the last years, months, weeks and days, I have been completely clear that I could not support fracking. I have tried to force a rethink and as a result of many conversations and negotiations, a new clause strengthening the rules and regulations around fracking was accepted by Government Ministers and has been included in the Bill.
My petition was launched last Friday. This kept the pressure up over the weekend as it attracted almost 2,000 signatures in just over 48 hours, demonstrating the enormous opposition to fracking in Somerset. I presented this, together with another petition, to Number 10 Downing Street yesterday, with a total of 8,688 Somerset signatures calling for a fracking freeze altogether.
When it became clear that the Government would not move any further, I voted for the moratorium along with 51 other members of the ‘awkward squad’. The Government won by 308 to 52 votes.
Disappointingly, Labour called for two other votes during the short debate on the ‘fracking’ part of the Bill, the effect of which was not to allow time for any votes on the proposed changes to the trespass laws.
At the end of the evening, Labour again sat on its hands and didn't call a vote on Third Reading. As a result, the Bill finished its course through the House of Commons without challenge.
I remain firmly opposed to fracking and will continue to campaign against it in Somerset and elsewhere.