Orders of the Day — National Coal Board (Additional Powers) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st November 1966.

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Photo of Mr David Marquand Mr David Marquand , Ashfield 12:00 am, 1st November 1966

As the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) pointed out, the mine workers at their conference this summer said that they welcomed the discovery of North Sea gas and, further, that they thought that this should not be left to private enterprise. On both legs of that argument it seems quite clear that, far from causing the morale of the mine workers to suffer, the news that the coal industry was becoming involved in this field should lead to an improvement in the morale of the mineworkers.

Unless we have a comprehensive fuel policy which will define the place of gas, coal and oil for a long time ahead we shall face a crisis of confidence in the mining industry which will be extremely damaging to the economy of this country, not least on balance of payments grounds. Therefore, if we are to have a comprehensive national fuel policy it is logical that we ought to have a comprehensive national board covering all the fuel industries. I hope that the move of the Board into the North Sea project will be a step in this direction. I commend this possibility to my hon. Friend. It is an additional reason why I hope the Bill receives a crushing majority in the Lobbies tonight.