HC Deb 20 April 1959 vol 604 cc9-10
6. Mr. Swingler

asked the Paymaster-General if he will carry out a special investigation into the damage caused by opencast mining and small mining to highways of all types and the ways and means of diminishing these effects.

Mr. Maudling

No, Sir. I have no evidence that such an investigation is needed.

Mr. Swingler

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the devastation and disturbance of highways that has gone on for some time in some areas—I could draw his attention to some particularly notorious examples in North Staffordshire? Will he consult the National Coal Board on this matter, because this is a powerful argument for cutting down opencast mining to the absolute minimum?

Mr. Maudling

The question of damage by subsidence is covered by the Act of 1957, but damage done by lorries using the highways is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation.

15. Mr. Neal

asked the Paymaster-General if, in view of the existing stocks of opencast coal, he will give general directions to reduce the output by closure of excavations or the termination of existing contracts.

Mr. Maudling

No, Sir.

Mr. Neal

I was unaware that the Paymaster-General was such an expert in the use of monosyllables. Will he impart some information to the House? Can he deny that half the annual production of opencast coal is lying on the ground? Can he further deny that every ton of opencast coal which is sold means that a ton of deep-mined coal is displaced from the market, which adds 20s. a ton to the cost? When will this economic madness come to an end?

Mr. Maudling

I am sorry that my replies are so short, but the nature of the replies depends on the nature of the Questions. I shall be glad to give any information for which the hon. Member asks. In the second part of his supplementary question, he neglects the fact that the production of opencast coal is very profitable to the Coal Board.

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