Orders of the Day — Public Health (Coal Mine Refuse) Bill.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 21st April 1939.

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Photo of Mr John Tinker Mr John Tinker , Leigh

Before the Bill gets the Third Reading I should like, in a word or two, to say how pleased I am that the House sees its way to assent to it. It has taken a long, long time to convince the House of the need for this Measure, and, if I may say so, I think that in one sense the fact that we have got so far with the Bill is due to one man. We disagree with him in many things, but certain things he has done have caused other things to follow. I refer to the German leader. The German leader may seem to be a long way off, but what he has done has caused us to stir ourselves to try to get something done in this matter of burning pit-heaps. If we look at the Defence Bill which has been framed in anticipation of what we may expect to happen, we find in Clause 35 a very drastic remedy for a state of things which we have for a long time been trying to get altered, and it is to be hoped that the coal owners will get ready to meet the requirements of the Defence Bill.

In 1937 when I was discussing this question I pointed out the dangers that might arise if enemy aircraft sighted burning pit-heaps, and mentioned one particular heap in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald). Yesterday my hon. Friend put down a question about it, and told the House that that pit-heap is in a very bad state at the present time, because nothing had been done in the two years which had elapsed. Somewhere about 12 months ago it was said by the colliery owners that they did not intend to do anything about it, but yesterday it was announced on behalf of the Ministry of Health that certain action was being taken, and it is evident that something is to be done. I hope that the colliery owners will recognise their duty in this matter. They have never before recognised their duty to have regard to the needs of their workpeople living round and about the collieries, the amenities of the district or the health of those people; but something is to be done now in face of a possible national crisis, and I believe that more will be accomplished as the result of that than could have been achieved by all the pressure which we have been able to bring to bear from these benches. However, I am very glad indeed that at last something is to be done, and I hope that within a short time we shall have removed these blots from the face of the land— these pit-heaps have been a blot upon our industrial areas— and that the people living in these areas will enjoy a much better life than has been their lot up to now.