HC Deb 21 December 1967 vol 756 cc1477-8
Q5. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister what steps he intends to take to improve the co-ordination between those Government Departments concerned with the social and economic consequences of accelerated pit closures.

Mr. George Brown

I have been asked to reply.

None, Sir. My right hon. Friend is satisfied that present arrangements are working well.

Mr. Hamilton

Can my right hon. Friend say whether this machinery of co-ordination extends to the chairmen of the nationalised industries, and if it does, can he explain the difference of opinion between Lord Robens as Chairman of the Coal Board and the Minister of Power over the planned rundown of the coal mines up to 1980?

Mr. Brown

As I understand it, there is no different between the Minister and the Chairman of the Board, but in any case the constitutional position about the responsibility of the Minister, both within the Cabinet and in this House, is quite clear. The situation is that the Minister has set out what he regards as the likely demand for coal up to 1975. This was then extended, as I understand it, and turned into a totally different formulation, going up to 1980. We regard the situation going that far as too uncertain to be able to forecast.

Sir G. Nabarro

As the White Paper on Fuel Policy was withdrawn within a few hours of presentation, on the specious grounds that devaluation undermined its concepts, will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House when he proposes to represent this White Paper, with a revised rundown of the pits, in order to use more coal at an early date, and less at a later date?

Mr. Brown

I do not think that arises on this Question, but I would use it to say that no grounds ever put forward by this Government are ever specious.

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