HC Deb 28 November 1983 vol 49 c644
8. Mr. Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he last met the chairman of the National Coal Board to discuss new investment in the Vale of Belvoir.

Mr. Giles Shaw

I have discussed the board's proposals for a new mine at Asfordby with the chairman on several occasions. As the hon. and learned Member will know, Mr. MacGregor has now stated publicly his support for this project and the Government are processing the board's application for investment approval.

Mr. Janner

Is the Minister aware that last week the chairman gave me a firm assurance that the Asfordby pit work would begin in time to dovetail into the rundown, redundancies and closures of other pits in the Leicester area so that the miners, including many of my constituents, would not be out of work and the industry would benefit? Will he confirm that assurance? When will the sinking of the shaft at Asfordby begin?

Mr. Shaw

I remind the hon. and learned Gentleman—I recall that I wrote to him on this subject—that the Government must give investment approval to the sinking of a new mine. I also remind him that we must carefully consider the scale of investment involved—about £360 million. The detailed decision has still to be taken and, thus, I cannot give him the direct answer that he seeks.

Mr. Latham

Will my hon. Friend confirm that ultimately only the Government can approve the investment for this pit, which is in my constituency, not in Leicester, West? Will he ensure that the decision, one way or the other, is taken as soon as possible so that uncertainty can be removed?

Mr. Shaw

; I give my hon. Friend the assurance that he seesk on both counts. There will be no unnecessary delay in dealing with this matter.

Mr. Ashby

Is the Minister aware that the miners in my constituency—I am not aware of any miners in Leicester, West—are anxious that this investment should go ahead and that the mine should be opened as soon as possible?

Mr. Shaw

I have already given my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Latham) the assurance that this matter is being dealt with as speedily as possible. We recognise that the House welcomes the view taken by the chairman of the board.

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