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Bates Colliery (Closure)

Volume 78: debated on Wednesday 8 May 1985

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3.31 pm

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 10, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration namely,

"the peremptory announcement of the closure of Bates colliery in Blyth yesterday by the National Coal Board."
The area director of the north-eastern area of the NCB yesterday informed officials of the NUM, in breach of all previous undertakings made by him, that Bates colliery in Blyth, which employs over 1,700 men, was to close immediately. This pit has a good record on productivity and industrial relations and high quality coal. By closing it, the Government are cold-bloodedly murdering the surrounding town of Blyth, whose economy depends entirely on the pit.

The area director of the NCB acted on the instructions of Mr. MacGregor, the chairman, and the Secretary of State for Energy, who poses in the Cabinet as a Left-wing fop, but who is instructing the NCB to carry out a murderous programme of pit closures. He has been guilty of the most serious negligence and misconduct, because only last year £2 million was invested in the pit, but it is now proposed to close it immediately, notwithstanding that recent substantial investment.

The Secretary of State was asked to reconsider the matter and yesterday the area director of the NCB said that the existing review procedure had been bypassed and that no attention had been paid to the existing review procedure. The matter is not negotiable. No consultations will take place, and the men at Bates pit can take it or leave it.

I am conscious, Mr. Speaker, that I have to satisfy you on the correct criteria for succeeding in such applications and to persuade you that the matter is so urgent that it should have priority over today's business. I submit strongly that, it should, in view of the widespread repercussions of the closure of this coal mine, a closure which delberately ignores the existing review procedure. There are 29 million tonnes on unworked but workable coal in the pit of high quality and the matter is of such grave importance that it should be debated today.

In my respectful submission, the Secretary of State for Energy has been guilty of fraud and negligence and various other forms of reprehensible misconduct involving moral turpitude, and I respectfully submit that the matter is so urgent that it should have priority over all the other business today.

The hon. Member for Blyth Valley (Mr. Ryman) asked leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the closure of Bates colliery in Blyth, Northumberland, as announced by the NCB yesterday."
As the hon. Gentleman has said, I have to decide whether to give the matter precedence over the business set down for today or tomorrow. I have listened with care to what he has said, but I regret that I do not consider the matter that he has raised as appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 10 and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.