Coal Industry (Scotland)

Oral Answers to Questions — Energy – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th July 1988.

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Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East 12:00 am, 4th July 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what has been the level of investment by British Coal in Scotland's mining industry in each of the last five years for which figures are available.

Photo of Mr Cecil Parkinson Mr Cecil Parkinson , Hertsmere

A total of £129 million over the five years 1982–83 to 1986–87. I shall arrange for the individual figures to be circulated in the Official Report.

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

Can the Secretary of State confirm reports that his right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is to meet the chairman of British Coal later this week? Is he aware of the great concern in Scotland that his right hon. and learned Friend is prepared to write off that investment, damage our balance of payments and destroy thousands of jobs, which are dependent on the Scottish coal industry, as part of the price he believes has to be paid for the privatisation of the SSEB? Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear to his right hon. and learned Friend that it will contravene the spirit, if not the letter, of Lord Prosser's judgment in the Court of Session if British Coal is required to burn imported coal at Cockenzie and Longannet?

Photo of Mr Cecil Parkinson Mr Cecil Parkinson , Hertsmere

I answered the heart of the hon. Gentleman's point in an earlier reply. There are good reasons to believe that the SSEB and British Coal are on the point of reaching an agreement about tonnage and prices, and that is the best evidence that the fear that the hon. Gentleman is implying exists is ill-founded. It is true that my right hon. and learned Friend will talk to the chairman of British Coal. He and I have an identical position in that we both wish to see agreement reached between the two industries.

Following are the figures:

Investment by British Coal in Scotland's mining industry over the period 1982–83 to 1986–87
YearLevel of investment
£million
1982–8334
1983–8432
1984–8525
1985–8623
1986–8715
Total129