On January 26, whilst debating the Infrastructure Bill, the House of Commons considered measures to allow fracking for shale gas under our homes.
Some MPs, unhappy with this controversial and deeply unpopular method of gas extraction, tabled a motion for a minimum 18 months’ moratorium on the process.
At the same time the Labour Party tabled an amendment to impose 13 rules to make fracking ‘safer’, while allowing it to take place.
The government did a deal. It agreed to Labour’s amendment if Labour whipped its MPs to abstain on the moratorium. The majority of Labour MPs abstained and Shadow for Energy Caroline Flint’s website rejoiced, “Plans for fracking will face tougher tests thanks to a dramatic Commons victory organised by Don Valley MP Caroline Flint this week”.
Two weeks later government threw Labour’s amendment out.
Once again, abstaining allowed the government to do what it wants.
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