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Pits (Closures)

Volume 654: debated on Monday 19 February 1962

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23.

asked the Minister of Power when colliery closures are considered, what prior consultations take place with district and country councils with regard to the social consequences for the local communities.

Before district and county councils are told of closures, the Board must first consult representatives of the miners. Notification to the local authorities is left to the discretion of the divisional boards. I understand that the programme of closures in Durham in 1962 has been given to the county council.

While one naturally agrees with consultation with the N.U.M. first on these matters, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman if adequate time is allowed for discussion with the district councils over the building of new houses? Surely, it will take at least two years to plan and build the houses. Why cannot discussions take place earlier with the district councils?

I think the hon. Gentleman well knows the difficulties of these discusions taking place too long before. It is very difficult, with the uncertainties of both geology and demand, to be quite sure at what point any pit is likely to go out of production. I am quite sure that the point is well known to the National Coal Board, but I will undertake to mention it to Lord Robens.