§ Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline, West)
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 10, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter, of which I have given you notice, Mr. Speaker, that should have urgent consideration, namely,the implications of the decision by the National Coal Board to close the Bogside mine in Fife.
Last Monday, at column 9 of Hansard,I told the Secretary of State for Energy of my anxiety about the current position of the dispute in the industry and that it could be used by the National Coal Board as an excuse to threaten pit closures. My anxiety related to the position reported to me at local level of the relationships between management and men, in particular at the Bogside mine in my constituency.
I understand that on Friday last, 3 February, officials of the National Union of Mineworkers and others were summoned to the board's office in Scotland and abruptly told that, because of the deteriorating conditions at the mine, it would undergo closure.
There is of course, a process of redeployment of manpower and an indication from the NCB that certain work will be undertaken at Bogside in relation to salvage, and so on. As it affects the Bogside mine, the matter is specific. What makes it doubly important is that the NCB's action is the latest manifestation of closures in Scotland, designed to reduce capacity and manpower.
There are important questions to ask the board and Ministers, not the least being who makes the decision by management in Scotland not to request cover for safety, maintenance and emergency purposes. The cover is requested, provided and agreed in England. One can only assume that the board's decision not to cover it in Scotland was at the highest level. I think that this is an important aspect that should be ventilated.
Vital public assets are, apparently, being misapplied and wasted. This industry is not owned by the Coal Board or, for that matter, with respect, by the miners. It belongs to the nation. I urgently request Ministers to come to the Dispatch Box to state their views on this vital matter. I estimate that between 500 and 800 jobs will be lost in my area and that the future of the whole of the Longannet complex and adjacent mines is threatened. These issues are of immense importance.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,the implications of the decision by the National Coal Board to close the Bogside mine in Fife.
I do not in any way underestimate the hon. Gentleman's argument. He knows that my decision is whether the matter should have precedence over the business today or tomorrow. I have listened carefully to what he has said, but I do not consider the matter that he has raised appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 10, and therefore I cannot submit his application to the House.
§ Mr. Martin J. O'Neill (Clackmannan)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This is the second time within 10 days that a pit closure in Scotland has been announced. We have 621 had no statement from the Secretary of State for Energy or the Secretary of State for Scotland. The mining industry in Scotland is in a state of trepidation and anxiety. Those fears must be allayed one way or another, and I ask you, most respectfully, to ensure that the Secretary of State of either of those Departments comes to the Floor of the House and explains what is happening.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am not responsible for statements, but the Leader of the House is present and I am sure that he will have heard what has been said.