HC Deb 23 July 1962 vol 663 cc930-1
6. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Minister of Power if he will make a statement on the estimated manpower position in the Scottish coalfields over the next five years, with special reference to the number of miners who will need to transfer to mines in England.

Mr. Wood

I cannot add to the statement issued by the National Coal Board on 11th July.

Mr. Hamilton

Will not the right hon. Gentleman confirm that considerable numbers of miners in Scotland will either have to leave the industry or, if they want to stay in it, transfer to England? Will he also confirm that, if that is so, those miners will suffer a considerable reduction in wages, as well as being deprived of a normal domestic life, in view of the great housing shortage in the areas to which they will be directed?

Mr. Wood

I should like to give the hon. Gentleman as much information as I can, but, as I have indicated, the probabilities and possibilities of the future make it very difficult for me to be specific. Even if it were the case that all the pits in category B and category C were to close, the pits in category A will need more manpower, and, with the national wastage, there will be more jobs in future than the number of displaced miners in all the B and C category pits. It is very difficult indeed at this point to forecast what is likely to be the movement of manpower from the B and C category pits, either into other pits or into England.

Mr. T. Fraser

Is not the right horn. Gentleman aware that even though the manpower increases in the category A pits to the extent which the Divisional Coal Board anticipate, that increase in manpower will almost inevitably be found from collieries adjacent to those developing collieries and from the recruitment of young miners, which must never be stopped if the industry is to live? Is he aware that, in these circumstances, 100 miners who will become redundant in pits which are to be closed will be unemployed if they continue to live in the areas where they are now living; and that, if they are transferred to other pits, they will clearly have to leave the communities in which they now live?

Mr. Wood

I have tried to give the hon. Gentleman the full picture. This is certainly a grave problem, particularly in certain localities, and these are the problems on which the attention of the House was concentrated in the recent debate, and in which the Government through the Local Employment Act, are anxious and very ready to help.

Mr. A. Roberts

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the National Coal Board is already making plans for the transfer of redundant miners from Scotland? If the right hon. Gentleman has no idea of the number coming from Scotland, how can the Board complete its plans for the transfer of these men to another coalfield?

Mr. Wood

What I understand the National Coal Board is anxious to do is to re-employ the displaced miners as economically and usefully as possible. It has, therefore, suggested that a number of jobs could be filled in England, but it is still uncertain how many of these offers will be taken up.

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