asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he is next planning to discuss investment with the chairman of the National Coal Board.
I meet the chairman of the National Coal Board regularly to discuss many issues, including the very substantial investment that the Government are making in the coal industry.
Will my right hon. Friend consider with the NCB chairman the desirability of proceeding swiftly to investment in the south Warkwickshire coalfield, as this offers one prospect of providing the lowest cost coal in the United Kingdom, which would go a long way towards reducing the overall cost of coal and do a great deal to regenerate the industry?
I shall convey my hon. Friend's views to the NCB chairman. The NCB is looking on a regional basis to all the prospects and priorities for investment throughout the coalfields.
When the Secretary of State next meets the chairman of the National Coal Board to discuss investment, will he raise the topic of the National Coal Board's asinine policy of lack of investment in the north-east of England? In particular, will he point out to the chairman that two years ago the north-east director of the NCB invested £2 million for new pit props for Bates's colliery, Blyth in respect of a seam which he now proposes to close, creating 800 redundancies?
I know that the chairman of the National Coal Board is anxious to retain the capacity for production in the north-east, where there is a strong demand for coal. He has made the appropriate surveys to see how much new investment will be needed to achieve that objective.