Sacked Miners (Reinstatement)

Oral Answers to Questions — Energy – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th February 1988.

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Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Vice-Chair, Labour Party 12:00 am, 15th February 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he next intends to meet the industrial relations director of British Coal to discuss the reinstatement of the miners sacked during the 1984–85 coal strike; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Spicer:

The dismissal and re-employment of mineworkers is a matter for the management of the British Coal Corporation.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Vice-Chair, Labour Party

Is the Minister aware that it is now nearly three years since the end of the strike and that more than 200 miners are still victimised—sacked—because of the fight that they put up in the 1984–85 strike? Is he aware of the famous quotation from Shakepeare's "The Merchant of Venice": The quality of mercy is not strain'd; It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven"? Some of that gentle rain dropped on his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy when he was out in the wilderness and he got his job back. Why does the Front Bench not do some negotiating to get these 200 miners their jobs back?

Mr. Spicer:

As the hon. Gentleman has recognised, this is a matter for British Coal. He should also recognise that out of the more than 1,000 miners who were initially dismissed the vast majority have their jobs back. Only 62 could claim to have been unfairly dismissed, and they have been fully compensated.

The matter has to be seen in perspective. Indeed, 9,808 were arrested, 10,372 charges were brought, 160 were sentenced, 37 were sent to detention centres, and 2,550 fines were imposed. That is the context in which the dispute was settled, and it is worth reminding the House of those figures.