§ 22. Mr. Nellist
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the coal strike.
§ Mr. Peter Walker
I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply that I gave to the hon. Member for Cannock and Burntwood (Mr. Howarth).
§ Mr. Nellist
Following the Under-Secretary's remarks about Selby coalfield, does the Secretary of State recognise that that coalfield, producing 10 million tonnes of coal, with 4,000 miners, is designed to replace equivalent production from 21 pits in the north Yorkshire area, which used to employ 16,000 men? Is not one of the central issues that fuels the anger of the miners the development of super pits such as Selby, and in areas of Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and so on, which is a preparation for future privatisation? It shows that the Government are less concerned about the continuation of jobs in communities and more concerned about lining the pockets of their big business mates.
§ Mr. Walker
It is remarkable that the hon. Gentleman should argue about the development of pits such as Selby, when a predecessor of mine in a Labour Government boasted of the enormous contributions made by Labour Governments towards Selby's development. The reason for the dispute is nothing to do with the development of Selby, which is in the interests of the coal industry. The leader of the NUM — I gather from the tapes — is reported to have repeated his demand at the meeting with the TUC this morning and informed it that the NUM is not 20 prepared to allow the closure of any section of the industry, however small. That is in sharp contrast to what happened under all previous Labour Governments.