HC Deb 27 June 1955 vol 543 cc15-7
17. Mr. Warbey

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is yet in a position to state the policy of the Government in relation to the recommendations of the Turner Committee on Mining Subsidence.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

I have nothing to add to the reply which my hon. Friend gave the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Swingler) on 13th June.

Mr. Warbey

If the Government cannot find time for legislation during the present Session, can they at least find time to make up their minds on this subject? They have had five years in which to do so. When shall we have a statement of Government policy on this matter?

Mr. Lloyd

I explained early in the life of the last Parliament that, owing to the economic position left to us by our predecessors, we were not in a position to take action.

Mr. Bartley

Is the Minister aware that the recommendations referring to agricultural land do not appear to require legislation? Will he take action as Minister by direction to the National Coal Board to implement those recommendations?

Mr. Lloyd

I will examine that point.

18. Mr. Holt

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power in how many areas property is being extensively damaged by subsidence due to coalmining; and what is the total number of houses at present damaged.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Damage is caused through subsidence in most coal-mining areas. According to statistics for 1954, which are the latest available, the number of houses damaged was just over 12,000.

Mr. Holt

People living in these houses would greatly appreciate it if they could get better recompense for damage done, but does the Minister realise that they would far prefer not to have any damage done at all? Would he say what is the policy of the Coal Board in new developments in pits—whether the fact that damage may take place extensively to property is taken into consideration before development?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, Sir. Of course, mining Members know that solid packing is a remedy for this, but it is not applicable in all cases and, in fact, is not usually applicable. All the 12,000 cases have been fully compensated by the National Coal Board.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the disastrous policy of opencast coalmining will add to this subsidence on a colossal scale in years to come?

Mr. J. T. Price

Is the Minister also aware that, in addition to the damage to houses and other forms of property, the local authorities responsible in the mining areas have to meet an ever-increasing bill for damaged public services, sewers, mains and all kinds of things underground, which is a burden on the local rates that they ought not to be carrying at all?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, but the last Government thought the most urgent part of the problem was dealing with small private houses.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Will the Minister again take into consideration what my hon. Friend has said and at least make an inquiry into how much it would cost the Exchequer to bear the cost, on national funds, of putting right damage caused by subsidence?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, we are examining that, but when the right hon. Gentleman brought in his Bill, he departed from the Turner Committee's Report and thereby created a rather new situation.

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