§ 4. Mr. Mason
asked the Minister of Labour if he will consult the National Coal Board to find out how many miners due to become unemployed during the phased closure scheme will be partially disabled and industrially diseased, with a view to the immediate preparation of a plan for financial and other assistance to expand the Remploy factories in coal-mining areas to absorb all miners so industrially afflicted.
§ 30. Mr. Wainwright
asked the Minister of Labour if he wil consult the National Coal Board to ascertain the approximate number of disabled miners who are likely to become unemployed owing to the present plan for mine closures; and if he will make immediate preparations for the building of sufficient Remploy factories in suitable areas to cater for their special needs.
§ 32. Mr. D. Griffiths
asked the Minister of Labour if he has yet had consultations with the Minister of Power and the National Coal Board to ascertain how many disabled miners will be made redundant as a result of planned pit closures; and whether he will give consideration to financing Remploy for further expansion to employ them.
§ Mr. Hare
My Department keeps in close touch with the Ministry of Power and the National Coal Board over the closure of collieries. Should there be any disabled miners for whom the National Coal Board is unable to provide other employment, my disablement resettlement officers will give them every assistance in finding work. Very few miners with disabilities would, however, be likely to be in need of employment 1347 in Remploy factories, which is reserved for those so severely disabled as to be unlikely to obtain employment under ordinary conditions.
§ Mr. Mason
Will the Minister now take upon himself the task of assessing this problem as a whole? There are about 200 pits to be closed in the next five years. Many of the industrially disabled and diseased cannot go to other collieries because those collieries already have their quota, and factories will not take them. Therefore, Remploy seems to be the likely best intake; but it would require much more finance than has been given hitherto for the development of Remploy. Should not the right hon. Gentleman now conduct a survey with this in mind?
§ Mr. Hare
I am keeping in very close touch with the National Coal Board on this matter. The Board expects to absorb elsewhere some of these men quite close to their place of work and most of the men whose pits will be closed in 1962. I certainly take cognisance of what the hon. Member has said. I am as anxious as he is to see that these men are given a proper chance.
§ Mr. Finch
Is the Minister aware that there have been two closures in the south-west coalfield and more are likely in the new year? There are employed at those collieries seriously disabled men whose only chance of obtaining employment when they become redundant is with Remploy. Can he take this up with Remploy?
§ Mr. Wainwright
Is the Minister aware that in areas where pits are to close usually the unemployment figures are higher than the national average? Is he aware that from 12th October to 8th November there was a decrease in unfilled vacancies of over 21,000? Can I impress upon the Minister that he must take special precautions and prepare for the special needs of these unfortunate miners who will find the 1348 greatest difficulty in finding jobs when their pits close?
§ Mr. Hare
I sympathise with what the hon. Member has said, but I think he will agree that the National Coal Board has a very good record in planning for redundancy ahead. It has done everything possible to find employment. I shall keep in close touch, and I believe that between us we shall be able to solve the problem in a satisfactory way.
§ Mr. D. Griffiths
If I heard him aright, the right hon. Gentleman indicated that the type of disease and injury applicable to miners was not in general the type for which Remploy caters. Is he not aware that the type of injury and disease catered for by Remploy is similar to that of a considerable number of these people who are injured and have various diseases and that they could be catered for if the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave him a little more cash to exert more energies to give better opportunities and scope in Remploy?
§ Mr. Hare
I am sure the hon. Member did not want to misquote what I said. I said that my advice is that "Very few miners with disabilities would, however, be likely to be in need of employment in Remploy factories, which is reserved for those so severely disabled as to be unlikely to obtain employment under ordinary conditions." The House has taken a great interest in this matter and I will look at it most carefully.
§ Mr. Prentice
In view of the very serious problem to which my hon. Friends have drawn attention, is not this the very worst moment for the Minister to contemplate cuts in the estimates for Remploy factories and Government training centres, which are relevant to the problem of the people to whom the Question relates?
§ 10. Mr. Dempsey
asked the Minister of Labour what particular proposals he has in mind for Scotland, which would assist miners, who are likely to become 1349 redundant as a result of pit closures in Scotland in the next few years, to find other employment.
§ Mr. Dempsey
Is the Minister aware that after the last pit closure we had as many as 50 per cent. of the mining labour becoming redundant? Does he realise that some of that 50 per cent. are still looking for employment? Does he realise that this calls for special planning to coincide with the pit closures so as to guarantee to men, on whose industry the whole economy depends, their right to alternative employment at the end of their mining career?
§ Mr. Hare
I repeat what I said in answer to a previous Question: the National Coal Board expects to find alternative coal mining employment for most of these men within daily travelling distance of their homes, either at once or within a relatively short time of the pit closure. I also repeat that the National Coal Board has a very good record in this matter.
§ Miss Herbison
Is the Minister aware that there will certainly be some for whom the National Coal Board will not find jobs? Is he aware that those men will be living in areas in which there is already high unemployment? Is he also aware that all the figures which he gives to bamboozle Scotland about jobs in the pipeline do not alter the fact that there are fewer people in civil employment at present in Scotland than there were four or five years ago?
§ Mr. Hare
Most certainly the people of Scotland are not being bamboozled about the fact that the Government have, through direct and indirect action, provided a large number of jobs and new industries in Scotland. I shall do all I can—in conjunction with the President of the Board of Trade—to see that jobs are found for those who are not provided for under the National Coal Board redundancy plan.