§ Mr. Lang
My right hon. and learned Friend last met the chairman of the South of Scotland electricity board on 4 July when, with the chairman of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, a range of issues was discussed. While coal was not the main subject of the discussions, we see no reason why a satisfactory outcome to the present negotiations between SSEB and British Coal cannot be achieved by the two parties concerned. This remains our view irrespective of the court action now being pursued by British Coal.
§ Mr. Hood
Will the Minister ask the Secretary of State for Scotland to consider intervening in the dispute between the SSEB and British Coal to try to prevent expensive legal action? Does he agree that political action is far better than legal action? Will he accept that it is his responsibility to consider the consequences of failure? The cost of failure to arrive at a settlement in the dispute between the SSEB and British Coal will be the elimination of the Scottish deep mining industry. Is that to be the Secretary of State's Christmas present to Scottish miners?
§ Mr. Lang
My right hon. and learned Friend and I are anxious to see a strong and viable Scottish coal industry. Matters of pricing and contract between the SSEB and British Coal are for commercial negotiation between the two parties. British Coal can have a successful future only if it remains competitive.