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Kellingley and Thoresby Collieries

Volume 579: debated on Tuesday 8 April 2014

Application for emergency debate (Standing Order No. 24)

I rise to propose that the House should debate a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely UK Coal’s proposed closure of Kellingley and Thoresby collieries.

The House will be aware that following statements from UK Coal last week and a written statement made earlier today by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Michael Fallon), who is Minister of State at the Departments for Business, Innovation and Skills and of Energy and Climate Change, UK Coal is seeking investment from various parties to fund a managed run-down of its two remaining deep mines, Kellingley colliery in my constituency and Thoresby colliery in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Sherwood (Mr Spencer).

UK Coal is seeking taxpayers’ money effectively to shut down two deep mines that have provided fuel to keep our lights on and jobs for thousands of people over several decades. In fact, I understand that today about 40% of our country’s electricity generation is still powered by coal. Given the perilous financial situation in which UK Coal finds itself, the House should be granted an urgent debate so that the whole House can consider the avenues that might be open for the industry. On the line are 1,300 jobs, 700 of them at Kellingley colliery. The pain would be felt not only in my constituency and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Sherwood. It would potentially also be felt in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr Walker), as a business in that area in the material handling industry is dependent on Kellingley.

My constituency has previously seen the closure of the Selby coalfield in 2004. The Selby super-pit, as it was, captivated all who had the slightest connection with the coal industry. It began mining in 1983 but was closed in 2004.

I should declare an interest as several members of my family have been involved in coal mining. In fact, some of them worked at Kellingley colliery itself between the ’70s and ’90s. Coal mining has being going on at Kellingley since 1965 and Thoresby since 1925.

I have met UK Coal, the National Union of Mineworkers and, most importantly, workers and family members who would be devastated if the mines were to close. I received an e-mail yesterday from my constituent Samantha Higgins from Selby, who wants me to ensure that their voices are heard and everything is done to protect their livelihoods. Mrs Higgins’s husband is a coal miner at Kellingley, as are her father-in-law and brother-in-law. In fact, her brother-in-law was only taken on at the pit earlier this year. Between them, they have three children under the age of six and three mortgages. The devastation that could befall that family should the pits close is not an isolated example.

I can also quote, Mr Speaker, from a letter I received from the Bishop of Wakefield, who is concerned not only about the severe problems that would be faced by the workers and their families but about the long-term security of our energy needs as a nation—

I note the observation of the hon. Gentleman.

I have listened carefully to what the hon. Member for Selby and Ainsty (Nigel Adams) has said and I must give my decision without stating any reasons. I am afraid that I do not consider the matter that the hon. Gentleman has raised as appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 24 and I therefore cannot submit the application to the House.