Sacked Miners

Oral Answers to Questions — Energy – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th June 1989.

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Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party 12:00 am, 26th June 1989

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will meet the chairman of British Coal with a view to discussing the re-employment of the miners sacked during the mining dispute; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Michael Spicer Michael Spicer Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Energy)

Since this is the ninth time that the hon. Gentleman has asked the same parliamentary question, he will be aware that the dismissal and re-employment of dismissed miners is a matter entirely for the management of British Coal. Of the 1,014 miners who were dismissed 663 have been taken back.

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

The Secretary of State for Energy did not have to ask nine times to get his job back. Is he aware that a fortnight ago Geoff Almond was killed in Betteshanger colliery when he was crushed to death? John Moyle, president of the Kent area and a local inspector, went to the colliery. He is a victimised miner, because British Coal refused to give him his job back. Upon trying to find out the events which led to that tragic death, he was ordered off the premises because he was a sacked miner. It is high time that the Secretary of State for Energy or any of his accomplices had a word with British Coal. When victimised miners who are trying to resolve and find out the cause of such tragic accidents are ordered off the premises, it shows that it is high time that British Coal and all its allies gave up this lust for revenge.

Photo of Michael Spicer Michael Spicer Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Energy)

Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman by once and for all setting this matter in its proper context and giving further details of some of the charges brought during the miners' strike. There were three charges of murder, five of threat to kill, three for explosives offences—

Photo of Jimmy Hood Jimmy Hood , Clydesdale

Answer the question.

Photo of Michael Spicer Michael Spicer Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Energy)

This is exactly answering the question. There were 49 charges involving offensive weapons, 15 for arson, 1,019 for criminal damage, 13 for conspiracy to cause damage, 39 assaults, 360 for assault on the police, 429 for assault causing bodily harm, 19 for resisting arrest, 31 for burglary and 352 for theft. That is merely the beginning of the list of charges. There were 201 custodial sentences handed out. Perhaps that explains why British Coal cannot take back all the miners.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Dickens Mr Geoffrey Dickens , Littleborough and Saddleworth

Does the Minister agree that there is not a private employer in this country who would be expected to take back on his staff someone who had beaten another member of staff with a baseball bat? Offences involving miners included incidents such as concrete slabs being dropped off bridges. Why should the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) come to the House time and time again to suggest to the Government that they should encourage the chairman of a nationalised industry to do something which no private employer would dream of doing?

Photo of Michael Spicer Michael Spicer Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Energy)

I agree with my hon. Friend, and as I said in my opening comments, I could have listed further charges which were brought and sentences passed.

Photo of Mr Terry Patchett Mr Terry Patchett , Barnsley East

The Minister read out a list of charges. Will he list the number of charges dropped after the dispute?

Photo of Michael Spicer Michael Spicer Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Energy)

Of course, not all charges were proceeded with. We are talking about 201 custodial sentences. Only 333 miners were, in the end, not reinstated.