Oral Answers to Questions — Coal Industry (Dispute)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th February 1972.

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Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover 12:00 am, 10th February 1972

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the co-ordination between the Department of Employment and the Department of Trade and Industry on the subject of the dispute between the National Union of Mineworkers and the National Coal Board; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

There is already very close co-ordination between these and all other Departments concerned. The Government's position was fully set out by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment and my hon. Friend the Minister for Industry in the debate on Tuesday.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover

Is the Prime Minister aware that the co-ordination between these two Departments, or any others for that matter, has produced a deceitful, insulting offer which can be best summed up as today's Financial Times has put it, that this new offer, like the last, is still within the unofficial Government pay guide lines of around 7 per cent. or 8 per cent.? What kind of special treatment is that?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment is to answer a Private Notice Question at the end of Questions about the discussions which are going on. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will acknowledge that the offer made by the National Coal Board last night of a minimum wage of £22 a week is £2 above that for which the T.U.C. has asked as a minimum wage——

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover

This is supposed to be a special case.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

What is more, the new offer would put average earnings in the industry substantially above the average earnings of other industrial workers in the country.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind, on the matter of co-ordination between Departments in this critical situation of fuel supplies, that millions of householders living in smoke-controlled areas can no longer get supplies of solid smokeless fuel? May they, therefore, be relieved under the Emergency Regulations of any liabilities which they would ordinarily have to burn only certain fuels?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

That is a question which I will ask my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to consider and to give urgent guidance upon.