HC Deb 26 March 1984 vol 57 cc11-2
11. Mr. Coleman

asked the Secretary of State for Wales on what date he intends meeting the regional director of the National Coal Board in South Wales to discuss the level of new investment in the coal industry in South Wales; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

I and my Department have regular contact with the director about a wide range of aspects of the coal industry in South Wales, but I have no plans at the present time for a meeting with him to discuss investment.

Mr. Coleman

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the solution to the present problems in the mining industry in South Wales would be a positive commitment on investment by the NCB and the Government? In view of that need, will he take up with Mr. Philip Weeks his remarks published in the new Neath Independent newspaper that he could not confirm investment in the Glyn Castle project, which is seen by the NUM as an important development in respect of the anthracite area, which is threatened with further pit closures? Will he have another meeting with him and talk about that?

Mr. Edwards

Clearly, investment decisions are for the board to take. At present it is unlikely that the board will be able to give those decisions the priority that perhaps they should have. The sooner people get back to work, the sooner we can get on with planning and producing future investment.

Mr. Gwilym Jones

Does my right hon. Friend agree that this is a sad day for the coal industry in South Wales? With the result of the voting of South Wales miners' lodges, good pits being picketed out by the actions of a militant minority, and the posters that we see around, does he agree that we cannot help but feel sympathy with the miners in wishing them victory in their battle against Arthur Scargill?

Mr. Edwards

I am sure that all hon. Members would agree that anyone who wishes to go to work should be allowed to and should not be impeded by others.

Mr. Geraint Howells

Would it not be advantageous to the coal industry in Wales if we had a common energy policy within the EEC?

Mr. Edwards

That does not arise from this question.

Mr. Barry Jones

Is it not true that of the 48 hi-tech faces in the United Kingdom only one exists in South Wales? Why is the right hon. Gentleman so lukewarm and faint-hearted about the need for new anthracite and coking coal pits in South Wales?

Mr. Edwards

Because those are decisions that should rightly be taken by the NCB.