HC Deb 10 December 1973 vol 866 cc26-7
21. Mr. Grylls

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what would be the expected average weekly earnings for surface workers and underground workers under the National Coal Board's current offer; and how this compares with the equivalent weekly earnings in 1970.

Mr. Emery

On a comparable basis to the figures used in the Wilberforce Report the expected average earnings under the NCB's current offer, including a productivity agreement, will be £46.50 for surface workers and £49.65 for underground workers. The comparable figures for 1970 were £24.10 on surface and £29.05 underground.

Mr. Grylls

The miners may be asking for more, but is it not clear that they have been treated more generously by this Government—taking account of the Wilberforce settlement and the current offer—than they have ever been treated before? Have they not been treated certainly more generously than most industrial workers? Is it not also true that with allowances and overtime face workers will be earning very nearly £3,000 a year.

Mr. Emery

What my hon. Friend says is correct because his figures show that, whereas immediately after the Wilberforce settlement in April 1972 the miners' ratio was 1.07 compared with manufacturing industry, if the NCB offer were accepted the ratio would once again be higher than that for manufacturing industries.

Mr. Eadie

Will the Minister try to explain the significance of his remarks? Surely there is something wrong with the financial statistics, because 700 miners are leaving the industry every week. Is it not time the Minister cut out the propaganda and tried, on Thursday, to make a settlement with the miners to get the nation the coal it needs?

Mr. Emery

The hon. Member should take into account the fact that recruitment is still progressing at a steady rate of between 300 and 350 a week, of which only half are miners returning to the pits. Under all Governments there has been a problem of recruitment at times of prosperity. Things are no different now than at any time in the past.

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