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.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test