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Mines Rescue Service

Volume 264: debated on Tuesday 24 October 1995

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about the future size, location and funding of the mines rescue service. [38262]

The Government have been concerned to ensure that a mines rescue service continues to be available to those mines who may have need of it. To this end I will be making regulations in the near future requiring the owners of certain types of mines to participate in a mines rescue scheme approved by the Secretary of State and which would ensure that appropriate and effective rescue services continue to be available. Once these regulations are made I will consult the Health and Safety Commission and others whom I consider to be appropriate, on proposals for approval of such a mines rescue scheme. A scheme has already been submitted for approval which proposes to maintain the current level of provision of six central rescue stations in strategic locations and a minimum of 80 full-time employees. The mines rescue service is currently operated by British Coal on a contract basis, and funded by the mine owners. Within the framework of the relevant statutory requirements, including the regulations and the scheme when these come into force, the future organisation of mines rescue service will be a matter for the mine owners.