HC Deb 19 February 1992 vol 204 c344
Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley)

You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that two years ago, under the private Bill procedure, the House passed a Bill promoted by a company called Associated British Ports. It was called the Associated British Ports (No. 2) Bill. When it was in Committee, a leading QC representing the promoters said that the port concerned would not be used for coal imports into this country.

In the past 24 hours, Associated British Ports has said that it will go ahead, in conjunction with National Power and PowerGen, with building a coal-handling terminal at Immingham on Humberside to bring between 10 million and 12 million tonnes of coal per annum into that area. That is a further threat to the British coalfields, which made representations, through local authorities and other organisations, during the passage of the Bill. They and the House were gravely misled during the Bill's passage. Having been misled in what way, what can we now do to protect the jobs of thousands of workers in the British coal mining industry?

Mr. Speaker

I recollect the passage of the Bill because it took a number of opposed Private Business slots at 7 o'clock. I can do nothing about it, however, because it is now an Act of Parliament.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Bill took a long time to get through the House because it masqueraded as a private Bill, whereas in fact it was a political Bill based on destroying the coal industry and increasing the balance of payments deficit by importing coal. The Chairman nominated by the Tory party, the hon. Member for Rochford (Dr. Clark), was not independent, as he should have been to chair a private Bill Committee. He was a consultant to a firm that was a subsidiary body of the firm that carried out the proposal at Immingham. The whole matter should be examined afresh.

Mr. Speaker

I recollect that allegation having been made—[Interruption.] Order. I hope that those comments were not directed to me.

Mr. Skinner

No, Mr. Speaker; they were directed at the hon. Member for Amber Valley (Mr. Oppenheim), the one wearing Pampers.

Mr. Speaker

I deprecate these personal allegations, from whichever side they came.