§ Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian)
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 that should have urgent consideration, namely,the immediate threat to the Lothian coalfield arising from the agreement between British Coal and the South of Scotland Electricity Board to cut the annual coalburn at Scottish power stations by 1.4 million tonnes.It was announced yesterday that British Coal and the SSEB have agreed to slash the coalburn in Scottish power stations from 6.25 million tonnes last year to 3.6 million tonnes in 1987. That massive reduction in the use of coal seems likely to have disastrous consequences for Scottish mining communities, including several towns and villages in my constituency.
This situation together, with the aggravating conduct of the colliery manager at Monktonhall, means that morale in the Lothian coalfield is at an all-time low. It;is worth mentioning that only a few months ago the manager at Monktonhall said that his work force was at an irreduciable minimum of 950. However, this week he appears to be offering voluntary redundancies to all comers. That must raise serious doubts about the future of that pit.
The matter is specific because it relates to yesterday's agreement. It is important not only because of the threat to employment in the Lothian area, but because of the need to maintain the viability of the Scottish coalfield. There are massive coal reserves around Monktonhall and Bilston Glen, including the Musselburgh bay reserves, which are as large as those in the Selby coalfield. It would be criminal to abandon such a coalfield because of the short-term impact of cut-price oil and excess nuclear capacity in Scotland.
This matter should have urgent consideration in the House because of the refusal of the Secretary of State for Scotland yesterday to accept his responsibility to intervene to protect the long-term interests of the Scottish economy and to safeguard the employment of hundreds of miners from East Lothian, Midlothian and Edinburgh.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) 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 immediate threat to the Lothian coalfield arising from the agreement between British Coal and the South of Scotland Electricity Board to cut the annual coalburn at Scottish power stations by 1.4 million tonnes.I have listened with care to what the hon. Gentleman has said. He knows that my sole duty in considering an application under Standing Order No. 10 is to decide whether it should be given priority over the business already set down for today or for Monday. I regret that I cannot find that the matter he has raised meets all the criteria laid down in the Standing Order, and I cannot therefore submit his application to the House.