HC Deb 06 February 1968 vol 758 cc223-4
31. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Minister of Power what is the estimated number of mineworkers in the county of Durham who will qualify for redundancy payments in 1968 according to the provisions in the coal borrowing powers Act.

Mr. Freeson

The National Coal Board are unable as yet to give an estimate, as the number will depend on how many are able to be transferred to pits remaining open as others close.

Mr. Shinwell

In that case, why did the Government initiate this new scheme without having any idea of how many men would be made redundant? Is the inability—either of the Government or of the National Coal Board—to furnish a figure due to the fact that there is a continuing process of closing mines, which is adding to the insecurity which now exists in the North-East?

Mr. Freeson

On the second point, of course, the answer is, "Yes". This is a continuing process and it was not started recently. On the first point, the Scheme introduced under the Coal Industry Act relates to the period up to March, 1971 and not just to this particular year. Therefore, it would not be possible to give a full estimate of the number of men who will be affected by the Act.