HC Deb 31 March 1925 vol 182 cc1089-91

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that the Dunstan Colliery Company, Durham, has been closed down recently; and what was the total amount of local rates paid by the owners of the colliery during the year prior to its closing down?

The SECRETARY for MINES (Colonel Lane-Fox)

One pit belonging to Messrs. Dunston Garesfield Limited, was closed about a year ago, a second closed this month, a third is still open. I am unable to supply the information asked for in the latter part of the hon. Member's question, but I have communicated with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, who will make inquiries and inform him of the result.


Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman say whether, in regard to the two pits closed down, the owners are paying local rates?

Colonel LANE-FOX

I cannot remember the position, but I should think not.


asked the Secretary for Mines whether his attention has been called to the closing down of pits at Blaenavon, whereby 2,500 workers will be rendered unemployed and 15,000 people at Blaenavon affected; and whether he will give Returns showing the number of pits closed down since the 1st June last year up to the present time?

Colonel LANE-FOX

Yes, Sir. I am aware that one pit at Blaenavon was closed last December and three other pits, normally giving employment to about 2,200 men, closed last week. The number of pits in Great Britain closed since 1st June, 1924, is 351, normally employing 70,800 wage-earners, and the number of pits opened or reopened in the same period is 99, at present employing 9,000 wage-earners.


Is not this closing, of the pits due very largely to our system of levying rates upon pits while they are open, and ceasing to levy rates as soon as they are closed?

Colonel LANE-FOX

I would not say "very largely."


When the Blaenavon pits were closed down some months ago, the Secretary for Mines sent down a representative from his Department to investigate, and ultimately the pits were restarted. Will he adopt a similar course to this case? The pits are in my constituency, and that is how I know.

Colonel LANE-FOX

I will be very glad to inquire. Inquiries which have already been made show that the pits had been working apparently at a very heavy loss indeed.


Will the right hon. Gentleman make another investigation?

Colonel LANE-FOX

I will inquire.


Is any immediate action contemplated on the part of the Government having regard to the deplorable state of things in the mining industry, or is it the intention of the Government to allow things to develop until the country is overtaken by irreparable disaster? We ought to know whether the Government intend to do anything.


That does not arise on this question.