HC Deb 23 April 1968 vol 763 cc12-3
14. Sir J. Eden

asked the Minister of Power up to what level of cost per man employed he proposes to pay subsidies under Section 5 of the Coal Industry Act, 1967, in order to keep a colliery open.

Mr. Freeson

Such a ceiling would not be appropriate.

Sir J. Eden

As the cost is already reported to be working out at about£40 a man, would it not be a better investment for the nation and better for the men themselves if the Government were in these cases to embark on a really imaginative programme of retraining for more productive work?

Mr. Freeson

That is not directly a matter for this Department. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman should study the facts of the situation in relation to other Departments. A considerable amount of work is being done on retraining, and the redeployment of manpower in the industry.

Mr. Ridley

To repeat my hon. Friend's question, will the hon. Gentleman pay assistance to the Coal Board in respect of pits where it is costing£40 a man a week to keep a pit open, as at Harrington No. 10 pit? Is it his policy to support pits like that?

Mr. Freeson

There is nothing new in this. The question has been asked and answered before, both in debate and at Question Time. The answer is that we are pursuing the policy laid down in the Coal Industry Act, 1967, which was debated some time ago in the House.