New Right of Board to Withdraw Support to Enable Coal to Be Worked.

Part of Coal Industry Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th July 1975.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Maurice Edelman Mr Maurice Edelman , Coventry North West 12:00 am, 15th July 1975

I do not know whether my hon. Friend is shaking his head because he disputes the facts. The facts are as I have stated them. There was anxiety about the possibility of mining being carried out underneath Coventry cathedral. But the National Coal Board has quite properly given undertakings and guarantees that that will not happen.

It is equally proper, when we are concerned with factories employing tens of thousands of people—factories on which the national interest depends—that certain inhibitions should be placed on those who might threaten those factories.

The hon. Member for New Forest properly underlined the fact that probably all hon. Members, vitally concerned about the future of the coal industry, are anxious not to weaken the power of the National Coal Board but to extend its workings wherever possible in the interests of the nation and the workers in that industry. We would applaud any intention by my hon. Friend, which he has exercised in many other directions, to try to provide facilities for the expansion of the industry and the welfare of those who work in it.

But we are dealing with something which is countervailing. We want to ensure that some inhibition is imposed on the NCB so that it will not exercise its power arbitrarily. There is a danger that great public authorities which are statutorily exempt from the burden of having to pay compensation in the event will abuse that power. Therefore, unless my hon. Friend can produce compelling reasons for the case that he has made today, I shall, with regret, but in accordance with the general principle that I have maintained for many years, go into the Lobby against him in support of my argument.