HC Deb 03 November 1958 vol 594 cc599-600
35. Mr. A. Roberts

asked the Paymaster-General if consent has been given to the National Coal Board to pay a pension to those miners who retired before the operative date.

Sir I. Horobin

No, Sir. The National Union of Mineworkers has asked my noble Friend to give its proposals further consideration; he expects to be in a position to give his reply very soon.

Mr. Roberts

In view of the general agreement between the National Union of Mineworkers and the National Coal Board, would it be possible to come to a right decision and to expedite it as soon as possible?

Sir I. Horobin

As the hon. Gentleman knows, this is a matter with which my noble Friend and myself have very great sympathy, but I am bound to tell him that, as the proposals are considered in the light of possible repercussions, the dangers and difficulties are very great. A final decision has not yet been taken, but we hope to be able to give it soon.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Since those who are responsible for the miners' pension fund are satisfied, after this careful husbanding, that it could and ought to do something for the older miners, may I hope that the Minister will not reject this proposal?

Sir I. Horobin

I do not think I ought to go further. The legislative position is very complicated, and other pension problems arise. An answer will be given very soon. Whatever it is, it will not be for lack of very sympathetic consideration.

Dame Irene Ward

Would it help my hon. Friend to know that a lot of people on this side of the House want this action? Would he therefore press his noble Friend on the matter? Is he aware that a great many of us believe that in many ways the older miner has had a very raw deal and that it would please all of us to have something for the older miner, who has not had nearly such a good time as the modern miner?

Sir I. Horobin

My hon. Friend, as usual, is putting very forcibly one of the considerations which weigh with all of us. Unfortunately, as I have pointed out, there are other considerations.