§ Mr. Martin O'Neill (Clackmannan)
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the decision of the South of Scotland Electricity Board to allow tenders for the importation of coal.It is a specific matter as it refers to the two coal-fired power stations in Scotland, at Cockenzie and Longannet.
It is important because the coal from the Lothian coal field—from the pits at Monktonhall and Bilston Glen—goes to Cockenzie. The Clackmannan coalfield, which is based largely in my constituency, with mines at Castlebridge and Solsgirth, is dedicated exclusively to the production of coal for Longannet power station. The latter is known as the Longannet complex, and all the coal output is dedicated to the station. It is taken there by conveyor belt from the underground face to the furnaces.
The importation of coal from abroad, which is purchased on the spot market at prices which may, in the short term, be lower than those charged by British Coal, will result in the closure of the Scottish coalfield, the loss of 4,000 jobs directly and many thousands indirectly.
The matter is urgent because the closing date for tenders is today. Last Thursday my hon. Friends and I met the Minister of State, Scottish Office, but he refused to intervene.
The Scottish Office is responsible for the operation of the SSEB. The buck stops at the Secretary of State for Scotland. That is why he should be called to account today, before the electricity board makes a decision that would have dire consequences for the Scottish economy and is due more to the rush to privatisation and the personal aggrandisement of a few than for the protection of the consumer, the continuity or supply or the jobs of my constituents and those of my hon. Friends.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,the decision by the South of Scotland Electricity Board to seek tenders for the importation of coal and its consequences on the Scottish coalmining industry.I listened with care to what the hon. Member has said but I regret that I do not consider that the matter that he has raised is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 20 and I cannot, therefore, submit this application to the House. No doubt he will find other ways of bringing it to our attention.