§ 13. Mr. Dormand
asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he next proposes to discuss with the chairman of British Coal the progress of British Coal Enterprise Ltd.
§ Mr. Peter Walker
I discuss the progress of British Coal Enterprise Ltd. with the chairman of the British Coal Corporation whenever it seems appropriate to do so.
§ Mr. Dormand
Will the Secretary of State make it clear to the chairman that no one really believes the stories about the so-called wild success of British Coal Enterprise Ltd.? Will he also take the opportunity to re-examine the whole scheme with a view to replacing the thousands of jobs that have been lost in mining areas? At the same time, will he stop the closure of pits until alternative employment is available? The situation is desperate in many areas, including my own.
§ Mr. Walker
Since British Coal Enterprise Ltd. started we have spent £28 million of the £40 million that was allocated, and we have created 16,641 new job opportunities in coal-mining communities. In the northeast, 2,386 new jobs have so far been created and by the time we get through the £40 million, some 25,000 will have been created. This is an outstanding record compared with anything that has happened previously.
§ Mr. Walker
As I said earlier, I am all in favour of those who work in this industry, and who are having such success in increased productivity, having the correct participation in their industry.