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Mines (Improvements)

Volume 640: debated on Monday 15 May 1961

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asked the Minister of Power if, in view of improved results following his modernisation and mechanisation policy for the coal industry, including the level of productivity and output per man shift, he will give a general direction to the National Coal Board to increase their expenditure on matters affecting the conditions of work of miners, especially cleaning and brightening coalmines, improving welfare arrangements, stopping the emission of fumes from coal tips, and improving the appearance of coal-tips by covering them with grass and shrubs.

No, Sir. The Board is aware of the importance of these matters and substantial improvement have already been made. It is for the Board to decide how much shall be spent on them.

In view of the remarkable results that have been obtained nationally, and in this area particularly, in regard to output and productivity, has not the time arrived when the Minister should give the Coal Board directions that it should introduce some reciprocity in regard to improving the locality in which miners and their relatives live?

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that a dark black shadow has been cast over Fenton and Longton, which should have been removed long ago, and will the Parliamentary Secretary give an undertaking that the suggestions made in this Question will receive the consideration of the Ministry and of the Coal Board?

I am unable to discuss a specific local question such as the one raised by the hon. Gentleman, but I think all hon. Members will agree that the National Coal Board has nothing to be ashamed of in its record in caring for the social welfare of its employees as far as financial resources allow—and I urge the hon. Gentleman to look at the industry as a whole. Far from having extra money to spend, the Coal Board will show a substantial deficit for last year. The Coal Board is always looking after the social interests of its workers.