asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that the National Union of Mineworkers have not refused to let their members work at Bevercotes Colliery, Nottinghamshire; and if he will take this fact into account in taking steps to assist in the settlement of the dispute regarding the wages structure at the colliery.
asked the Minister of Labour if, in view of the dispute between the National Coal Board and the National Union of Mineworkers, who have refused to permit their members to work the Bevercotes, Nottinghamshire, pit, modernised at a cost of £18 million and which should have started production last October, he will instruct his conciliation officers to investigate the causes of the dispute with a view to reaching a settlement which will enable production to start; and if he will make a statement.
While thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask whether he is aware that our miners, and especially those in Nottinghamshire, are known throughout the country and Europe as leaders of mechanisation, automation and experimentation, and that to brand them as Luddites when they hold all production records does them a great disservice? I was hoping that the spokesman for the Surtax payers, the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne), would be here to dissociate himself from those remarks.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I was rebuked by your predecessor on one occasion for using Question Hour as an opportunity for making a personal reflection on a right hon. Gentleman opposite. Was not the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon) doing exactly the same thing about my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne), and should he not be asked to withdraw his remark?
I quite understand my hon. Friend's remarks about the miners of the country and the contribution they have made. It is a pity that the finest automated pit in Europe is unable to start work.