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Coal Industry Dispute

Volume 86: debated on Wednesday 13 November 1985

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asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland how many policemen were prosecuted for alleged offences during the miners' dispute.

Does not the Solicitor-General's answer show that the dispute in Scotland was a relatively peaceful affair? Can the hon. and learned Gentleman explain why more than 200 miners have been dismissed by management and why very few of them have been reinstated? What do the Government intend to do about that.?

I must tell the hon. Gentleman once again that reinstatement is a matter for the Coal Board, not for me. Failing satisfactory resolution, it is a matter for an industrial tribunal. The hon. Gentleman described the dispute as relatively peaceful. I have told him before that about 1,000 people were prosecuted for incidents and that 721 of them were convicted. That is a fairly clear indication of our assessment of a peaceful dispute.

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that his answer confirms that the conduct of the police during the miners' strike was exemplary? Does he deplore the fact that Labour-controlled Strathclyde regional council has persistently refused since the dispute to bring police numbers up to establishment?

My hon. Friend is right. I do not know how it is supposed that the rule of law can be enforced in Strathclyde when the police are not up to establishment. My best information is that there have been just 14 complaints against the police arising from the miners' dispute. As more than 1,000 people were prosecuted, it appears that the police behaved excellently.