§ Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
With your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and that of the House, I beg leave to present a petition on behalf of Mr. Alan Grimshaw. I present the petition because my hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Mr. Grant) has been seriously ill for a considerable time and he has been anxious to present it to the House on behalf of Alan Grimshaw. As a result of communications through the party, I agreed to present it tonight. I shall be brief, as is customary in these matters.
Some hon. Members will recall that Alan Grimshaw worked for the National Coal Board and gave evidence to a Select Committee of this House in 1973–74, the report being issued in June 1974. He gave evidence to the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries, which was investigating the purchase by the National Coal Board of powered roof supports, which had been the subject of great concern in the media generally, and had been mentioned by many hon. Members at the time. When the Select Committee reported, it was critical—not as critical as I should have liked—of the board's purchasing policies. Only 16 working days later, Mr. Alan Grimshaw was dismissed by the National Coal Board. It has been a matter of concern on many occasions in this House. One of the Leaders of the House, Ted Short, who is now in the House of Lords, dealt with the matter when it was raised by several hon. Members, including myself, during that period.
We believe, Alan Grimshaw believes, and his constituency Member of Parliament believes that he has suffered a severe injustice as a result of giving evidence to this House. He and many people outside this place think that when people act as witnesses before a Select Committee here they should have protection. That he certainly has not had.
The petition is six or seven pages long. I do not propose to go into all its details. I shall save the time of the House by not instructing the Clerk of the House to read it out. I want to deal with the matter in a few more sentences. It is a matter of great concern, not just to Mr. Grimshaw, but to all people who are asked to act as witnesses before a Select Committee and then have no protection.
Sixteen working days after the report was issued, Mr. Grimshaw was sacked by the NCB. His testimony to the Select Committee had been without doubt critical of the board. He knew a lot about it, because he worked in the accounts departments of one of the areas. He has now been out of work for 11 years, and he has still not received justice—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)
Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but he must not go into the detail. He is presenting a petition on behalf of Mr. Grimshaw.
§ Mr. Skinner
I am quite aware of that, and, as I said earlier, it is possible for me to ask the Clerk of the House to read out all these pages. However, I do not propose to do that. That will be dealt with in the normal way when I present the petition. We do not get petitions of this nature 1033 every day. We get petitions about injustice involving wages and conditions that are settled by people outside the House, and various other issues.
In 1892, a similar case was brought to the House of Commons, and as a result an Act was passed which enabled compensation to be paid to people acting in circumstances similar to those relating to Mr. Grimshaw. He is calling upon the House to adjudicate. He has not received satisfaction up to now. He has been out of work for 11 years, and he has not managed to find a job. He has had a slur on his character, and he has not been defended by the House of Commons. He has a case and that is why I speak on his behalf before I put the petition in the bag.
I want the House of Commons to remedy the injustice inflicted upon Mr. Grimshaw. He offered evidence in 1973–74 and as a result in June 1974 he was sacked from the NCB. Many people in the NUM—and he was a member not of the NUM but of another trade union—believe that he has suffered an injustice. His petition is an attempt to persuade the House to adjudicate.
I beg leave to present the petition.
§ To lie upon the Table.