HC Deb 25 January 1995 vol 253 c355
12. Ms Rachel Squire

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the future of the deep-mine coal industry in Scotland.

Mr. Stewart

Following the successful privatisation of British Coal, the future of the deep-mine coal industry in Scotland lies with the private sector. The Government believe that privatisation is the key to achieving our aim of securing the largest economically viable coal industry in the longer term. I wish Mining Scotland Limited every success.

Ms Squire

Does the Minister agree that it is vital to the future that he has just outlined for the pumping operations at Frances colliery in Fife to continue, both to allow a full economic appraisal of the colliery's coal reserves and potential and to prevent widespread ecological damage to wide parts of Fife? Will the Minister press the President of the Board of Trade and the licensed coal board, or its successor, to meet the cost of such pumping operations to allow a full examination of the economic and ecological issues?

Mr. Stewart

That is primarily a matter for the river purification board. I understand that the board has written to British Coal asking about its intentions in regard to continued pumping at Frances and, indeed, at Michael colliery.