Shale Gas and UK Parliament

Parliament Today on Radio 4 last Friday had a segment on shale gas. As always it is interesting to see how our elected representatives disport themselves whilst “looking after our interests”.

Play -> Parliament Today R4

Treasury Secretary, Danny Alexander does an impression of the unpopular schoolboy trying to ingratiate himself with the school bullies with some rather pathetic puns.

Then we get Michael “I’m out of my depth” Fallon, the new Energy minister, getting excited about streamlining what little regulation we have and the tax breaks (oops fiscal incentives) which are to be offered to the fracking companies at our expense. He also refers to something we haven’t heard of before the “developers’ charter”, but which is presumably a formalisation of UKOOG’s guidelines.

We then have former MP Alan Simpson, now with FoE warning MP’s not to underestimate the backlash against fracking and not to make a political “suicide run” by supporting it without thinking.

Next up is Dan Byles who chirpily says that there are a lot of MPs who don’t know they might be touched by it – which begs the question of how uninformed they can be and still believe they deserve a huge pay rise.

Then we have our very own Mark Menzies doing his now-expected self-congratulatory thing on regulation. he has obviously forgotten that he didn’t actually get what he called for – “the establishment of a committee of independent experts” – instead he tells us “I called for two things – those things have been delivered”. He then tells us that it’s also very important as a member of parliament that you hold the government to account. We can’t wait fro him to start doing so. It’s not to early.

Then we get a bit of cautious wibble from Labour who cant quite work out whether they should be supporting fracking or not.

We then hear more about the community “benefit”. Dan Byles comes back to explain about the wondrous bounty that shale will bring us, but has to admit that they haven’t got a clue how to identify what a “community’ is or how to get the bribe paid to it.

He tells us that “the council is not the community”. Apparently we may be talking about what council tier it will be given to – parish council, district council but they are not actually talking about giving it to the council. Phew – I’m glad that’s clear then!

Finally a Lib Dem peer, Lord Tony Greaves, gives his opinion about what the government may or may not do in terms of allowing control of planning.

All in all a pretty good illustration of the combination of hopeless optimism,undeserved self-congratulation, lack of conviction and random speculation which appears to characterise our political elite on this subject.

Listen and weep.

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