HC Deb 15 May 1996 vol 277 c949
23. Mr. Skinner

To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he last met trade unions leaders from the mining industry to discuss the operation of underground mines. [28380]

Mr. Page

My ministerial colleagues and I meet representatives of the coal mining industry as necessary.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Minister aware that, in the first year since the massive pit closure programme in the early 1990s and the subsequent privatisation, the rate of notifiable accidents has risen by 50 per cent. and the rate of serious accidents—falls of roofs and so on—has increased by 80 per cent. in about 20 coal mines? At the same time, Richard Budge's salary has risen by 60 per cent. to £661,000, and his profits have gone up by £173 million. Does the Minister agree that that is blood money and the sooner that the pits are taken back into public ownership without compensation, the better?

Mr. Page

I regret any accidents or fatalities in pits, and I find it disgusting that the hon. Gentleman has tried to make a political point with the deaths of miners. I draw to his attention the fact that, in 1985–86, 27 people suffered fatalities. The number dropped to 15 in the next year, and to nine in the year after that. Fatalities then went up to 18. The hon. Gentleman was not in the House shouting about blood money then, and he should be ashamed of himself for doing so today.