HC Deb 15 July 1985 vol 83 cc8-9
9. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what reply he has sent to West Lothian district council, as a result of the evidence sent to him, following West Lothian district council's inquiry into the future of Polkemmet colliery.

Mr. David Hunt

The closure of collieries must be a matter for the NCB in consultation with the mining unions, which can choose to appeal through the colliery review procedure, including appeal to an independent body under the amended procedure.

Mr. Dalyell

Which specific figures in the district council's evidence do the Government dispute?

Mr. Hunt

Thanks to the hon. Gentleman, I have received a copy of a statement by West Lothian district council, which I am considering. I shall respond to it, and to the point that the hon. Gentleman has just made, as soon as possible. However, nothing that he has said can alter the fact that Polkemmet was flooded at the end of August 1984 as a result of the withdrawal of safety cover by the NUM. That disgraceful act of vandalism can never be excused.

Mr. Eadie

The Minister cannot get away with that statement. Polkemmet was flooded because the director of the National Coal Board would not permit middle management to go in and do the job that was being done in every other coalfield. Is the Minister aware that Polkemmet is important to the steel industry, and especially to Ravenscraig? If he accompanied some of his hon. Friends to Ravenscraig, he would discover that it is importing all the coking coal it needs. Does he accept the need for Polkemmet to be reopened and the fact that, technically, it can be done?

Mr. Hunt

The hon. Gentleman has got all those facts wrong.