HC Deb 16 July 1964 vol 698 cc1410-2
23. Mr. B. Taylor

asked the Minister of Power if, in the light of the approval he gives to the Board's major development programmes, he will make a statement about the progress made by the National Coal Board with the extension of mechanisation and the introduction of automation in coal production.

Mr. Peyton

In the first half of this year more than 70 per cent. of the Board's deep-mined output was obtained by power loaders compared with 37½ per cent. in 1960. Trials of two types of equipment for remotely operated coal production are now in progress at four collieries in the East Midlands and Durham and I understand that the Board intends to extend these trials to other coal fields.

Mr. Taylor

May I ask the Minister whether the experiments being conducted in Ormonde Colliery, Derbyshire, and Newstead Colliery, Nottinghamshire, with remote-control working have been successful, and if so does the National Coal Board anticipate putting this type of machinery into other pits?

Mr. Peyton

I should remind the hon. Gentleman that these experiments are at a fairly early stage. As I have said before, the intention is to carry out wider experiments. It must also be borne in mind that these modern methods are not universally applicable.

Mr. Callaghan

Is this the industry which the Prime Minister was referring to when he talked about "the junk yard of nationalisation"?

Hon. Members


Mr. Peyton rose

Mr. Ross

He has lived among miners all his life.

Mr. Peyton

I would certainly agree with what my right hon. Friend said on that occasion. Of course, I only hope that hon. Members opposite will never have a chance to add to the "junk yard".

Mr. T. Fraser

The hon. Gentleman, who says that he supports his right hon. Friend, is, in fact, making a vicious attack upon the National Coal Board—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ask a question."] Will not the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power, who has some responsibility in this matter, offer the congratulations of Her Majesty's Government to the National Coal Board on the measure of modernisation to which he referred in his Answer, which is unequalled in any sector of private industry in this country?

Mr. Peyton

All I would say to that is that it has taken a number of years for a Conservative Government to achieve sensible arrangements with the nationalised industries. I have no desire or intention to attack the National Coal Board. I am saying that, with the help of the Government, it has begun to overcome some of the problems—they are difficult ones—inherent in public ownership.

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