Mar 14, 2024

What happened at the third reading and what can you do now?

What happened at the third reading and what can you do now?

What happened at the third reading and what can you do now?

Debate (20/2/24) | Vote (Division 77; 20/2/24) | Progress Stages | Text of Bill 9 

Purpose of the Bill

Make provision about licenses to search and extract offshore petroleum.

MP Watch verdict

MP Watch urges constituents to challenge MPs who voted for this Bill and hold them to account on the following issues:

All amendments were defeated or withdrawn and so the issues brought up at the Second Reading still apply:

  1. This Bill is not consistent with international commitments

  2. It is unnecessary

  3. The case for allowing it to proceed does not stand up to scrutiny.

  1. This Bill is not consistent with international commitments

  1. This Bill is not consistent with the UK’s COP28 agreement to transition away from fossil fuels. The UK Climate Minister Graham Stuart tweeted after the conference ‘There must be a phase out of unabated fossil fuels to meet our climate goals.’ The Bill represents a ‘phasing up’ of fossil fuels rather than a ‘phase out’ or even a ‘transition away’.

  2. This Bill undermines the reputation of the UK as a global leader. If the UK argues that another country should not develop its fossil fuel resources fully, that country would be justified in asking why the UK is asking other countries to do what it is not doing itself.

  3. This Bill is not consistent with advice from the Climate Change Committee. Its interim chair Piers Forster wrote ‘the Climate Change Committee evidence is that continued expansion of new oil and gas reserves is inconsistent with our climate commitments, especially more so in light of the recent Global Stocktake COP agreement we just signed.’

  4. This Bill is not consistent with advice from the International Energy Agency who said ‘from 2021 there must be no new oil and gas fields approved for development.’

  5. Chris Skidmore MP resigned over the issue. He wrote ‘As the former energy minister who signed the UK’s net zero commitment by 2050 into law, I cannot vote for a bill that clearly promotes the production of new oil and gas.’

  1. The Bill is unnecessary

  1. The substance of the Bill is a distraction. It is not necessary. 

    1. The North Sea Transition Authority can already grant licences annually, or, indeed, when it considers it necessary.

    2. It has been doing that regularly for the past few years. 

    3. The Department’s own explanatory notes make that clear.

  1. The case for allowing it to proceed does not stand up to scrutiny

  1. Here are the main arguments used to promote that case

  1. Improve UK energy security - oil and gas extracted from the North sea is owned by private enterprises and the Government does not get to control to whom it is sold. 

  2. Lower domestic UK energy bills - the price of oil and gas as a commodity is set internationally. There is nothing connected to this Bill capable of lowering UK bills. The best way to lower energy bills is to invest in emerging low carbon technology rather than waning fossil fuel technology.

  3. The Bill will secure 200,000 jobs - 

    1. 200,000 jobs in oil and gas have been lost over the past decade, despite hundreds of new drilling licences. A transition is necessary. 

    2. many of the skills used in the oil and gas sector are transferable to clean energy.. 

    3. to turbocharge a clean energy transition, we need to help, support and retrain the workers who are making the transition, over time, from the fossil fuel sector into the many tens of thousands of jobs that are being created in clean energy 

    4. clean energy must be ‘phased up’ and fossil fuels ‘phased down’.

  4. Imported gas has four times the emissions of UK gas supplies

    1. The majority of the gas that the UK imports comes via a pipeline from Norway. It is not imported LNG. 

    2. The carbon intensity of Norwegian gas production is around half that of UK domestic gas.

    3. Any additional gas needed can be replaced by stepping up renewables.

    4. There is no need for either imported LNG or UK extracted gas.

  5. The independent CCC has said that in 2050, we will need oil and gas for a quarter of our energy - this is a false claim debunked by many (see Guardian article)

  6. Labour’s £28 billion green policy plan will raise taxes and puts ‘extreme climate ideology over the interests of ordinary workers’ - the plan is investment into the new infrastructure needed to create the clean energy transition and which is intended to boost the economy and provide a healthy economy, as well as climate benefits. (For context and comparison with Conservative policies the deficit from borrowing has increased by £1900 billion in 13 years from 2010 - an average of over £140 billion per year. An adjustment for inflation should be made on those figures.) £28 billion is a small amount by comparison. However Labour has withdrawn the target until UK finances improve.

  7. Key quote from Dr Alan Whitehead (Lab) ‘As the right hon. Member for Reading West (Sir Alok Sharma) has informed us, the Bill legislates for something that happens anyway. It will make no difference to bills, according to the Secretary of State. It will make no difference to our energy security, according to the former chair of BP. It will undermine the independence of the North Sea Transition Authority, according to the NSTA’s own board, and it will reinforce the perception around the world that the UK is rowing back from climate action, according to the former COP President, the right hon. Member for Reading West (Alok Sharma).

  1. All amendments were defeated or withdrawn. There were 2 votes on amendments (shown below) and a key withdrawal from Alok Sharma, (also shown below).

  1. SNP Amendment 10 (Division 75) attempted to introduce a new test to be applied by the Oil and Gas Authority before inviting applications for new production licences. The amendment stated words to the effect that new licences cannot be issued unless it can be shown that the licence will meet the North sea transition deal’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and unless the UK Government are funding the renewables sector in oil and gas dependent areas to at least the value of oil and gas revenues. 277 Conservatives blocked the amendment and all Labour and Libdems abstained.

  2. Labour Amendment 17 (Division 76) attempted to introduce a new test that would safeguard the legally binding commitments that the UK and all other nations made in the Paris agreement and have reaffirmed ever since. The amendment read “The climate change test is met in relation to a relevant year if the latest reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the mitigation of climate change find that the granting of additional seaward area production licences is consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C.” 279 Conservatives blocked this amendment.

  3. Alok Sharma withdrew his amendment which would require no flaring of gas if licenses are to be issued. He intends for it to be re-introduced into the Lords. He pointed out that if this is voted against, MPs and Lords will be voting against Government Policy.

  4. There were many other amendments proposed but only the two above were voted on.

  1. Although an amendment on the Energy Charter Treaty wasn't voted on, two days after the debate the Government announced it is withdrawing from the Treaty, which currently enables firms to get compensation for financial losses suffered because of changes in a government's energy policy. This is an important victory for environmental campaigners. Not directly related, but important to see the connection and even more important to celebrate wholeheartedly. Here is the Government press release.


by Victor Anderson

This Bill is MP Watch’s current top priority piece of parliamentary business.

The Bill requires North Sea oil and gas licenses to be given out every year. 

The Second Reading on 20 February was, as expected, a straight “party line” vote, with interest focusing on whether there would be any exceptions/rebels. Tory MP Chris Skidmore resigned from the Commons on the issue and caused a by-election. 

Tuesday Feb 20 was Committee Stage and Third Reading. There were three votes:

  • SNP Amendment 10 (Division 75)

  • Labour Amendment 17 (Division 76)

  • Third Reading (Government proposal) (Division 77)

Alok Sharma’s Amendment, which has some Tory support, was withdrawn and will come up in the Lords.

The Bill now goes to the Lords. 


  • This HoC session took place on 20/2/24 following the Second Reading on 22/1/24. 

  • The session began with the Committee Stage considering amendments, two of which were then voted on. The session finished with the Third Reading and a final vote. 

  • As a result of the vote the Bill passes to the House of Lords

  • This vote was probably ‘three-line-whipped’ by all parties. As this information is not transparent to the public we cannot confirm with certainty whether it is correct. Best guess.

  • Also see Progress Stages    

How did MPs vote? 

See here how your MP voted    Vote (Division 77; 20/2/24)   

  • AYE - 286      (CON 276; other 9)
    accept the Bill in its Third Reading form and allow it to progress to the next stage in the Lords   

  • NO - 221        ( LAB 155; LD 11; SNP 39; other 13)
    reject the Bill and stop any further progress

  • Vote not registered - 142  (inc Alok Sharma - abstention; Theresa May)
    (CON 68; LAB 41; LD 4; SNP 4; other 13; Speaker + deputies 5; SF 7)

How MP Watch MPs Voted

Lee Anderson AYE

Caroline Ansell AYE

Steve Baker AYE

Paul Beresford AYE

Suella Braverman AYE

Rob Butler AYE

Alex Chalk AYE

Robert Courts AYE

Sarah Dines AYE

Mike Freer AYE

Sally Ann Hart AYE

Philip Hollobone AYE

Ranil Jayawardena AYE

Mark Jenkinson AYE

David Johnston AYE

Faye Jones AYE

Daniel Kawczynski AYE

Brandon Lewis AYE

Anthony Mangnall AYE

Jerome Mayhew AYE

Karl McCartney AYE

Esther McVey AYE

Sheryl Murray AYE

Jacob Rees Mogg AYE

Selaine Saxby AYE

Paul Scully AYE

Bob Seely NO VOTE

Chloe Smith NO VOTE

Mel Stride AYE

Liz Truss NO VOTE

Bill Wiggin AYE

Bambous Charalambous NO VOTE

Jeremy Corbyn NO

Neil Coyle NO VOTE

Stella Creasy NO

Sharon Hodgson NO

Clive Lewis NO

Lisa Nandy NO

Kate Osamor NO VOTE

Sarah Dyke NO VOTE

Supporting Documents