§ 10. Mr. Alan Howarth
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the progress of British Coal Enterprise Ltd.
§ 19. Mr. Hickmet
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the operation of British Coal Enterprise Ltd.
§ Mr. Peter Walker
The Government welcome the impressive progress being made by British Coal Enterprise Ltd. The company has so far committed £16.8 million in support of 791 projects and has helped to create nearly 11,000 job opportunities.
§ Mr. Howarth
Does my right hon. Friend accept that what he has told the House today will be widely welcomed by all those who are fair-mindedly willing to recognise that, in the context of the very necessary preservation of financial discipline, the Government have a humane and generous policy to help communities in real need?
§ Mr. Walker
The important thing about the enterprise company is not just the money that the Government have made available, but the fact that it has attracted a great deal more money with it. I hope that, with the £40 million that we have so far allocated to the enterprise company, about £200 million worth of investment will be attracted into coalmining areas. I hope that that will provide about 25,000 new jobs and much better job opportunities for those miners in areas where coal is likely to run out in the near future.
§ Mr. Rowlands
Is the Secretary of State aware that in communities such as Nantgarw and Cwm 1,200 job losses have just been announced? In recent years miners have moved to those pits under the no compulsory redundancy scheme and now will be made redundant again. The efforts of British Coal Enterprise Ltd. are hopelessly inadequate to meet the needs of communities facing such losses.
§ Mr. Walker
I recognise and very much sympathise with any community that suffers such substantial job losses. We heard many pessimistic remarks about the contribution that the enterprise company could make. If the enterprise company in its first two to three years produces 25,000 new jobs in coalmining areas and expansion, not contraction, in businesses, that is a considerable contribution.