§ 39. Mr. Lawson
asked the Minister of Power what proposals he has made to the National Coal Board for the reduction of outstanding capital debt in the Scottish coalfield by such amounts as were spent on major development projects which have been abandoned.
§ Mr. Lawson
Is it not the case that the Minister has just told us that £128 million has been lost in the Scottish coalfield? Is it not right to ask the Minister whether there have not been special circumstances in Scotland? For example, the kind of policy imposed upon the Coal Board by the Government and the kind of managerial policies which have been followed in Scotland have been responsible for these heavy losses. Would not any other business write off losses such as this?
§ Mr. Wood
It is to attend to any special circumstances that may exist in Scotland that, as the hon. Member will have seen, the Chairman of the National Coal Board recently announced that the Scottish interest charges would be carried by the industry as a whole. Any question of capital reconstruction would be proper to the whole reappraisal and future of the coal industry which, as I have announced several times, I have carried out with the Chairman of the National Coal Board.
§ Mr. Lawson
Is it not the case that the main remedy which is being followed in Scotland is to reduce the Scottish coalfield by about one-third? Is it not the case that the Coal Board in Scotland, which formerly supplied Ireland, is not now supplying Ireland? Has not a policy been followed that denies to Scotland markets which she formerly enjoyed?