HC Deb 11 November 1991 vol 198 cc772-3
9. Mr. Murphy

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he intends to meet British Coal South Wales in the near future to discuss the future of coal mining in south Wales.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

My right hon. Friend and I meet the chairman of British Coal regularly to discuss all aspects of the coal industry.

Mr. Murphy

The Minister is no doubt aware that a fortnight ago the Penallta colliery in the Rhymney valley closed, meaning that there are now only three pits in the whole of south Wales. Bearing in mind the increasing use of heavily subsidised imports and the impending privatisation of the coal industry, what guarantee is the Minister prepared to give the House and the people of Wales about the future of the Welsh coal industry?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

The future size and success of the Welsh coal industry depend on its ability to control costs and to continue to improve its productivity. If it can do that, it will win a large part of the market to supply the British electricity generating stations when the present contracts expire in 1993.

Mr. Barron

The Rothschild report, which is currently with the Department of Energy and which was paid for by the Government and produced by discussion with working groups in the Department of Energy and British Coal, envisages the end of deep mining in the south Wales coal field by 1993–94. Even if the Minister and the Secretary of State do not want to say whether they have accepted or rejected that report, if they truly believe in the market will they now reject it so that the British coal industry can continue to work towards improving its productivity as it has during the past six years?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

The report to which the hon. Gentleman refers was advice to my right hon. Friend. We have already made it clear that no decisions on the way to privatise the British coal industry will be taken until after the next general election.