§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power (Mr. J. C. George)
Fifty-three National Coal Board mines were closed during 1959. About 15,500 men were affected, of whom about 400 are still out of work.
§ Mr. Owen
I thank the Parliamentary Secretary for that brief comment on the 1959 position. Will he agree that the social tragedy that was inherent in the contraction of the industry has been generally averted by the good sense of the National Coal Board and the National Union of Mineworkers, and will he say what steps have been taken to deal with those who are still redundant?
§ Mr. George
The 400 men to whom I referred earlier are scattered over the 990 country—100 in Scotland, 200 in Northumberland and Cumberland, and 100 in South Wales. Therefore, no serious problem emerges anywhere. On the question of unemployment in the mining industry, 6,400 men are unemployed, representing 1 per cent. of those working in the industry.
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that it is somewhat paradoxical that we have now reached the position where we judge our success in the industry by our ability to cut back production? Would the hon. Gentleman examine the long-term energy programme and find out whether we are now to get from the Atomic Energy Authority that contribution to the total of energy production that it was estimated we would get? If we are not to get that, then indeed we shall shortly pass into a fuel crisis again. Will the Parliamentary Secretary consult his right hon. Friend on that?
§ Mr. George
That is an entirely different question. If the hon. Gentleman cares to raise it on another occasion, he will get an answer.