HC Deb 02 November 1965 vol 718 cc857-8
22. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Power whether he will use his powers under section 3(1) of the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act, 1946, to give a general direction to the National Coal Board not to mine under industrial premises in such a way as to cause subsidence of the premises.

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

No, Sir. It is for the National Coal Board to decide what methods of working should be adopted in particular circumstances to prevent or reduce damage from mining subsidence.

Mr. Edelman

But is my hon. Friend aware that manufacturers of precision machinery in places like Coventry are greatly concerned about the possible dangers to their equipment arising from such operations? Is he further aware that the inquiry procedure for objectors under the Town and Country Planning Acts is both lengthy and costly? In these circumstances, will he do something to simplify the procedure in order to protect the interests of the manufacturers and workers involved?

Mr. Morris

As my hon. Friend is aware, the extraction system in Coventry has been specially planned by the National Coal Board's experts to give the maximum protection to surface interests. As he is also aware, there is appropriate provision in the Coalmining Subsidence Act, 1957, for the Board to pay compensation for damage caused by subsidence to land, buildings, structures and surface lines and pipes.

23. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Power if he will introduce legislation to protect the interests of industrial undertakings whose plants are damaged by subsidence due to mining operations.

Mr. John Morris

I have nothing to add to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) on 26th May.

Mr. Edelman

But is my hon. Friend aware that under the Coalmining Subsidence Act, 1957, it is extremely difficult for manufacturers to initiate proceedings because it may involve them in heavy claims for compensation from the National Coal Board itself. In these circumstances, will he not re-examine the Act in order to strike a proper and up-to-date balance between the interests of the manufacturing industries and the coal industry itself?

Mr. Morris

With regard to a proper balance, my hon. Friend will be aware that the 1957 Act represented a broad compromise between surface and underground interests and made the National Coal Board liable in the ways that I have set out. If he has any new matter to raise, perhaps he will let me know in due course.