As announced on the first day of the strike, we have enlisted the help of coal merchants and the National Coal Board, in association with local authorities and the medical profession, to ensure that priority is given to essential services and to households with special claims including those of the elderly and sick, subject, of course, to the co-operation of the mineworkers.
Skilful management by the electricity generating boards and public response to the appeal for economy have made it possible to maintain electricity supplies at reduced voltage but the C.E.G.B. has had to give warning of possible power cuts.
I welcome that reply. would my right hon. Friend confirm that if the situation worsens the Government will continue to ensure the necessary priority for pensioners, who depend so much on solid fuel supplies?
Would the Secretary of State now like publicly to say "Thank you" to those much maligned miners' pickets who are working full time for nothing to ensure that these supplies get out? Little reference has been made to those striking miners who are working for nothing in their own time to make sure that supplies get to these people.
I have no hesitation in going on record as expressing my appreciation of the help which the mineworkers have given in this respect. That does not alter the fact that in other respects, as the hon. Gentleman knows, quite the reverse has been the case.
May we assist the right hon. Gentleman? He is concerned to safeguard essential supplies. Has he seen the headlines in the Evening Standard this afternoon saying that there will be no power supplies? May we assist him by asking him to influence his Cabinet colleagues to make a settlement with the miners and give them more cash?