Is the Minister aware that in Scotland there is a crisis of confidence in the mining industry which is shared by miners? Would he agree that he has Ministerial responsibility to do something immediately about this position to avoid the nation being involved in very heavy cost resulting from further contraction this year?
My hon. Friend has no doubt noticed the speeches made of late by the Chairman of the N.C.B. and myself and the indication given in them that there will be a slower run-down in 1969 than in 1968. I will be able to judge morale for myself when I visit Scotland on Friday.
Is it not a fact that, thanks to Government policy such as the Redundancy Payments Act and development policy, closures such as that involving the Riddochhill Colliery have gone more smoothly and more satisfactorily than one would have conceived possible five years ago?
I am obliged to my hon. Friend for that comment, which is absolutely true. It is also noticeable in mining areas where the unemployment figures look relatively high, for one must take notice of the fact that some miners have been prematurely retired on redundancy pay while others are enjoying weekly take-home amounts of a high rate flowing from the over-55 scheme, which means that many men are taking home £15 to £20 a week although they are recorded in the figures of unemployed.