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Rothes Colliery (Closure)

Volume 655: debated on Thursday 15 March 1962

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asked the President of the Board of Trade what are the immediate prospects of further industrial development in Glenrothes, Fife; and whether such development will be sufficient to employ all those who will be redundant on the closure of the neighbouring Rothes colliery.

I understand that of about 800 men employed at the Rothes colliery, the National Coal Board will be able to offer work immediately to some 300 in Rothes or nearby, and to about a further 350–400 in the Scottish coalfields within the period of redundancy-payments. The miners affected live in the areas covered by the Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline Groups of Employment Exchange Areas, where there are now in total some 1,500 jobs in prospect from new building and other developments. Of these, about 600 are for men.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware, now that this colliery is to be murdered, that the chairman of the National Coal Board has said that 150 of these miners will not be able to get a job in coal mining anywhere in Scotland but will have to move to England, and that those who do get reemployment in Scotland will be employed at a greater distance from their homes and at less wages? Will the right hon. Gentleman and the Secretary of State for Scotland be much more energetic in bringing industry to this area? If private enterprise will not do so why will not the State provide industry for these men?

The nationalised industry does not seem to be very successful in Glenrothes. Regarding the effort to bring industry to the area, I am proud of our record and I hope to improve on it.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consult the Prime Minister and the Government to see whether £6 million could be invested in further exploiting the deep coal in Rothes in view of the grossly extravagant expenditure of the Government on less worth-while things?

Questions about the colliery should be referred to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power.

Surely the concern of the Minister must be about the effect of the closure of this pit which, after all, was Scotland's most modern and most expensive pit and which was planned by private enterprise? Will the President of the Board of Trade drop his perfunctory and complacent attitude to something which has made aghast the whole of Scotland? Is he aware that we are very concerned about the position and that this just will not do—this reference to jobs in the pipeline?

The references I make are real references and have great effect on policy. Therefore it is no use hon. Gentlemen just sneering at the figures I am giving. They are translated into facts in due course.