HC Deb 24 November 1986 vol 106 c9
8. Mr. Harvey

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the current level of output in the mining industry; and what was the comparable figure in 1985.

Mr. David Hunt

Current output in the coal industry has been maintained at broadly the same level as in 1985, with output per man shift reaching a new record level of 3.55 tons in the week ending 1 November 1986, compared with 2.87 tons in the same week last year.

Mr. Harvey

Does my hon. Friend agree that those figures represent a staggering increase in productivity? Will he convey our congratulations to both management and work force? Do not those figures represent a ringing vindication of the rationalisation policy carried out in the teeth of a politically motivated strike?

Mr. Hunt

I completely agree with my hon. Friend. That encouraging and rapid growth in productivity since the end of that tragic and unnecessary strike demonstrates the determination of all concerned in the coal industry to succeed and to meet the competitive challenge in the energy markets. Since 1979 productivity has risen by more than 50 per cent., and productivity records have been broken in six out of the past seven weeks.

Mrs. Clwyd

Is the Minister aware that there have been four deaths in south Wales pits during this financial year? Is he also aware that there is an upward trend in reportable accidents? Does he think that increases in productivity are being achieved by pushing unacceptable levels of safety, to the danger of the men who work in the industry?

Mr. Hunt

I believe that to be one of the most disgraceful accusations that I have heard in the Chamber. That is an insult to all who work in the industry because, for them, safety is always paramount.