The subject I wish to raise tonight is a very important matter which often occupies my attention. It is the need to plan industrial development in the constituency of Blaydon. It is only natural that such a subject is causing grave worry to many people in that area.
I think it will be consistent with the facts to recognise that the main industrial structure in Blaydon constituency was formerly based on coal mining. It always seems to me that the history of any great industry is a fascinating study, and while I appreciate that I am not allowed to speak on day-to-day problems of the coal mining industry, I would like for the moment, if I am allowed, to borrow something from the older history of that industry. The House may be interested to know that in the days when miners were bond servants, and for the regulation of the coal trade, particularly when the export of coal from the River Tyne to London reached 200,000 tons a year, there came the first Act of Parliament which dealt with "collier" as applied to the northern pitman. On research, I find that that Act gave masters and owners the power to
lay hold of vagabonds and sturdy beggars and compel them to work in the pits".
It is more noticeable that that Act provided that
if colliers should leave their masters without consent they will be esteemed reported and held as thieves of themselves and of cowardice for leaving such masters.
While that may not be of pragmatic significance now, I suppose that such a Measure would enable the Government of the day to be guided by nothing but a feeling of self-preservation, making use of all the means at their command—