HC Deb 13 February 1964 vol 689 cc525-6
3 and 4. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Power (1) if he will make a statement on the potentialities of the research project which has resulted in the development of the Collins Miner, a remote-controlled automatic coal-face cutter; and to what extent the research and development were financed by Her Majesty's Government;

(2) if he will give a general direction in the public interest to the National Coal Board to stimulate the production of automatic coal-face cutters, in view of their export potentialities.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power (Mr. John Peyton)

These projects for remote control of mining processes are an important part of the National Coal Board's efforts to raise productivity and improve safety. They are being developed by the Board on its own responsibility in collaboration with manufacturers. I have no doubt that all aspects of future exploitation, including exports, are being considered.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Does the Minister agree that these machines are among the finest in the world? If he does, does he also agree that this is a great tribute to the enterprise of the men engaged in the mining industry—both management and workpeople? If it is true that they are such a success, would the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of asking the Coal Board to consider manufacturing them on a large scale, so that they can be exported for tunnelling and mining purposes throughout the world?

Mr. Peyton

The answer to the last part of the supplementary question is that that is very much a matter for the Board and the manufacturers. I entirely agree with what the hon. Gentleman said about the imaginativeness of these new methods of extracting coal.