HC Deb 04 June 1951 vol 488 cc662-3
22. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how far opencast coal mining projects in the parishes of Bayton, Mamble, Pensax, Rock and Abberley, in Western Worcestershire, are to be abandoned in favour of schemes for the underground gasification of coal seams in that area.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

There is no connection between the present prospecting for the opencast production of coal in Western Worcestershire and the proposed experiments for underground gasification. The seams on which the experiments would be made are at depths below the normal range of opencast work.

Mr. Nabarro

May we deduce from the right hon. Gentleman's reply that the contingency may arise of opencast coal mining and gasification work being conducted simultaneously on the same site?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I think that highly improbable.

Mr. Baldwin

Before the nationalisa-of coal, there was an underground colliery operating at Bayton. When that colliery was closed the miners offered to work it and mine a guaranteed amount of coal per week. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if they had been allowed to do so, they would have been able to provide coal for the district over a very wide area?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I have looked into these cases, and it always turns out that the closure of pits means more coal.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

How is that?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Because the miners are used elsewhere, where the output per man shift is much higher.

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