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Uneconomic Coal Mines (Closure)

Volume 720: debated on Thursday 18 November 1965

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asked the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has for the establishment of publicly-owned industries in those areas likely to suffer from the expedited closure of uneconomic coal mines.

I have announced in the last 12 months a programme of 55 new Government-financed advance factories in development districts, of which 32 are in coal-mining areas. The Government are taking vigorous action to provide other employment for miners affected by the expedited closure of uneconomic coal mines.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that news is very, very welcome as an indication of the Government's sympathy with the nature of the problem? But it does not answer the Question on the Order Paper, which asks about the establishment of publicly-owned industries in these areas. Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the phasing of pit closures with new industrial development is not likely to be smooth unless and until we fulfil the pledge we gave at the election?

With all respect to my hon. Friend, these are publicly-owned factories. But in so far as it is possible to introduce further publicly-owned enterprises in these areas, we shall be delighted to do so.

Surely the right hon. Gentleman will give the House a categorical assurance that it is not the intention of the Government to establish entirely new nationalised industries as is envisaged in this Question?

It certainly is the intention of the Government in this Session to introduce legislation to widen the powers of nationalised industries to manufacture. I hope that that will contribute to employment in these areas.