Shale Gas and Oil (EAC Report) — Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:39 pm on 4th November 2014.

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Photo of Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market Conservative 7:39 pm, 4th November 2014

My Lords, I thank all my colleagues for the very kind remarks they made about my chairmanship. I will say only that I found this a most rewarding experience. Both chairing that committee, and this debate tonight, demonstrate one of the great benefits and values of the House of Lords. We have come together from different backgrounds, had different experiences, have different areas of knowledge and come from different parties, but I suspect that those looking down on our debate and listening to it would not know which party we belonged to if they could not see where we sit. That is a reflection of the very real benefit that the House of Lords can give, as well as the very valuable experience we had from outside our committee. I thank in particular my noble friend Lord Ridley for a very knowledgeable and splendid contribution to our debate. That is my first point: this shows the House of Lords at its best and has real value.

Secondly, I have to say to the Minister that when we got the response from the Government I felt that it was somewhat complacent. To a certain extent it argued, “We understand all these things; we are doing all that, and don’t worry”. The noble Lord, Lord Smith, described it as feeble. Whether it is complacent or feeble, that is still the impression that has been given to the House, and the impression out in the country. I absolutely accept everything the Minister has said about what the department is doing, but this needs real promotion. Of course the industry must do that, but the Government must do it in a much more forceful way, by getting across the benefits that shale gas could potentially give us. I suspect that that is not happening strongly enough at the moment, which is why we made the recommendation for a Cabinet sub-committee. I do not mind how it is done, but it has to be done much more forcefully across the board. If you go out and ask the general public what the contribution of shale gas to the UK could be, I am sure that they would not have a clue. However, they are aware of the problems in local communities. Therefore, there is a big job to do to put the case over, as well as all the policies to be made by government. That was one of the messages that came out of the debate tonight.

In conclusion, this has been a very useful debate. It is extremely important to keep pressing the case for shale so that the general public understand it. With those few remarks, I beg to move.

Motion agreed.