Government in Crisis: Backbenchers not convinced by statement

CONSERVATIVE backbenchers were last night demanding that the Government go further and produce a genuine review of the pit closures, leaving ministers still uncertain of a Commons majority in tomorrow's coal debate.

Public reaction to Michael Heseltine's moratorium was judged by MPs opposed to the closures to be crucial. Many MPs have received a flood of mail - 50 or more letters in some cases - opposing the closures, and Elizabeth Peacock, the Batley and Spen MP who has been among the most vocal opponents, said: 'The next 48 hours are crucial.'

Normally loyal backbenchers who had been threatening to abstain, reserved their judgement, saying that they remain to be convinced in tomorrow's debate that the review would result in cancellation of any of the closures - or provide a proper review of energy policy.

Mrs Peacock, Richard Shepherd and Hugh Dykes were among Conservative MPs saying that they would still vote against the Government. Winston Churchill, MP for Davyhulme, said that the thrust of Michael Heseltine's statement had been 'that once the review is out of the way, all 31 pits will close'.

Mr Shepherd, MP for Aldridge- Brownhills, said: 'The Government has lost its way. Why should we have any further confidence that a review by the Government and British Coal will bring about any different decisions?

'All these stories about Michael Heseltine's personal anguish will not wash. The public will determine the response to this'.

Some Tory MPs who had lined up to vote against the Government said, however, that they would not now do so, as ministers argued that the moratorium would do enough to take the sting out of the issue by halting the prospect of 30,000 miners losing their jobs overnight.

Tony Marlow, MP for Northampton North, who had threatened to vote against, was not satisfied with Mr Heseltine's statement, but said it was 'better than it was', and that he would 'probably be supporting the Government'. Gary Waller, MP for Keighley, said he would do the same. 'The whole question has been left open,' he said.

Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith, a vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee, predicted that the Government would get its majority. But Sir Rhodes Boyson, a member of the 1922 executive, declared that 'the Government has to go further'. The moratorium on closure needed to be extended to all pits, with an independent review covering all energy supplies, not just coal, he said.

Hugh Dykes, the MP for Harrow East, also argued that the Government had not done enough. An independent review was needed, he said.

'This just looks like delaying it for a few months. The Government has to provide more reassurance than that. This is not just about the miners, it is about any further dilution in the industrial sector. The Government has to take action otherwise we are facing a slump'.

David Nicholson, MP for Taunton, said that the real issue was whether Mr Heseltine intended to do anything 'about the rigging of the electricity market against coal and for gas'.

One normally loyal Kent MP, who revealed before the statement that his association had 'made it perfectly clear that they do not expect me to support the Government', said: 'Mr Heseltine has dug himself out of the hole for the moment. But I'm not sure it is enough. I'm still thinking of abstaining.'

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
art

The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs

News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Mentor for people who have offended

This is an unpaid volunteer role. : Belong: We are looking for volunteers who ...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: Experienced TA's urgently...

Business StudiesTeacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Supply Business Studies Teacher...

English Teacher

£110 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: English Teacher - CaerphillyT...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?