Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that these forthcoming closures will make a total of twelve coal mines, two large coking plants and other industrial establishments to be closed in the area? Is he further aware that the mobility of labour is becoming much more difficult because mechanisation is leading to cuts in manpower? Would he not agree to the need for immediate measures to offset these serious dislocations? Can he say what long-term plans there are for industrial development in so far as it affects unemployment in the area?
We understand from the National Coal Board that about 395 men are likely to be involved in the three closures which I have mentioned. The Coal Board has said that it is not yet possible to say precisely how many of these can be redeployed to replace natural wastage in neighbouring pits, but that it is unlikely that more than about half the men involved in the closures at Stanley Burn and Stargate can be placed locally. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Coal Board tries to redeploy men in other parts of the Durham coalfield. We naturally realise that this makes the need to get more industry into the Blaydon area greater, and the hon. Member knows that we are doing the best we can. He may like to know that Blaydon was made a development district in July, 1962, and that since then more than £500,000 has been offered in assistance to firms to go there.