§ Mr. Peter Walker
The NCB is still assessing the financial damage inflicted on the industry by the strike. This will take some time to complete. It has told me, however, that its deficit on revenue account is likely to be at least £1,850 million. The aftermath of the strike will moreover cause additional losses for the board in 1985–86. The NCB's external cash requirement for 1984–85 is expected to be about £1,800 million — some £706 million in excess of the board's EFL.
The Government can meet £1,108 million of the revenue account deficit by grant within the ceiling set by the Coal Industry Act 1983. Decisions about the remainder will be taken when the outturn result for the year is more certain. However, the Government intend shortly to introduce a Bill to enable payments of deficit grant to the NCB to continue during the period of reconstruction following the strike, and my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is presenting an Estimate to the House today which provides for payments of deficit grant to the NCB in 1985–86—totalling £1,000 million. This sum takes account of the outstanding amount of this year's deficit and may be sufficient to make some provision for the deficit which the NCB may incur in 1985–86. There will, however, need to be a re-assessment when a fuller picture of the NCB's financial prospects following the strike is available.