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Volume 640: debated on Monday 15 May 1961

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asked the Minister of Power what general direction he has given to the National Coal Board about the shortage of miners.

None, Sir. My right hon. Friend has frequent consultations with the Chairman on this subject, as well as on the Board's plans for increasing productivity to combat the shortage.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware of the shortage of mine workers in Lancashire, and will he give an assurance that no pits will be closed because of this shortage?

We are well aware that a shortage exists in various districts. We have no reason to think that the shortage of miners will cause any closures in any district.

Does that reply mean that the Ministry is not concerned about the shortage of miners? Might I direct the Parliamentary Secretary's attention to one area I have in mind in South Wales where there is a shortage?

I gave no such impression. It is impossible to deny that some anxiety exists about the rate at which men are leaving the industry, but the urgent task facing the Board is to offset the effects of lower manpower by higher productivity. The Chairman of the Coal Board has initiated what he has described as the greatest mechanisation drive in the history of the industry, and its success is vital to the industry.