HC Deb 01 December 1959 vol 614 cc992-3
26. Mrs. Hart

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what consultations he proposes to have with the National Coal Board regarding the areas likely to suffer pit closures during 1961 and 1962, with a view to anticipating the social consequences that are likely to result.

Mr. N. Macpherson

The primary responsibility for consultations with the National Coal Board rests with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power and I am unable to add to the reply which he gave the hon. Lady yesterday regarding pit closures in the years after 1960. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will, however, continue to keep in close touch with him and with my right hon. Friends, the Minister of Labour and the President of the Board of Trade in order that full consideration may be given to the possible social consequence of any pit closures proposed.

Mrs. Hart

Is the Under-Secretary aware that, if he does not take action to promote alternative employment, he must accept responsibility for the decay in villages resulting from pit closures? Will he impress on his colleagues in the Ministry of Power that the National Coal Board should inform the Secretary of State of its intention to close pits well in advance, so that plans may be made to save these villages?

Mr. Macpherson

My hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary explained in a recent debate that the number and location of future closures will depend largely on the scale of output, so that there is a definite limit to the amount of advance information which can be given. My right hon. Friend is in close touch with this matter and fully understands the implications. Indeed, as the hon Lady knows, we shall be discussing a Bill this afternoon which may have a bearing on the matter.