A TORY peer who sparked outrage by calling the North East ‘desolate’ will have the chance to see it for himself.
Lord Howell of Guildford, who caused fury by saying there was plenty of room for fracking in the region, will be taking part in a Durham Union Society debate next month.
The debate, entitled ‘This house believes that Baroness Thatcher was Britain’s finest post-war Prime Minister’, threatens to be a lively one with Dave Hopper, secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, also taking part.
Lord Howell drew gasps of astonishment from the House of Lords for saying the controversial form of gas production, which involves drilling to crack rocks and release gas inside, could take place in the North East without having any impact on the surrounding environment.
The peer, who served as energy secretary in Margaret Thatcher’s government from 1979 to 1981, later apologised, insisting he had not meant to insult the region and had meant to say the North West.
Mr Hopper, a Labour supporter, said: “I don’t normally look forward to meeting people like him or talking about the person at the centre of the debate, but I will be talking about what she has done to our communities and our region. I am sure the subject of fracking will come up and he will have to defend those remarks. A lot of people in the North East, including Tories, will have been angry about what he said. I’m sure he wouldn’t be supportive of fracking where he lives.”
On the subject of Baroness Thatcher, Mr Hopper said: “Lord Howell should go and meet some of the communities in the region and speak to the people there who are struggling with no jobs.
“That’s the legacy Thatcher left behind.”