Coal Industry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:31 pm on 26th June 1989.

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Photo of Kevin Barron Kevin Barron Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change) 9:31 pm, 26th June 1989

The Secretary of State may shake his head. I was a teller when he walked through the Aye Lobby with the Prime Minister to vote in favour for the Bill for the ports on the Humber. I will send the Secretary of State a copy of Hansard if he has forgotten what he did that night.

Opposition Members and the whole of the British coal-mining industry will not be unaware of the kind of support that they have received from the Government over the past six months or so. No matter what words they utter or what they do, it is clear that the Government's policy towards the coal industry is determined by a mixture of their ideological idiocy and political prejudice.

The prejudice between British coal miners and Tory Governments is well known. It has been evident in the 1980s, and it was evident in the 1970s in my generation. However, it was clear also in the 1920s when the arguments between Labour and capitalism were rehearsed in the mining communities between the coal owners and the mining unions. We know where Conservatism has stood for generations.

Nothing more could have been asked of the British coal industry over the past four years than that which it has delivered. For the industry to be confronted by a Government who are prepared to work against it in the winning of contracts so that foreign coal will come into this country is a stab in the back for the people who work so hard. That shows where the Government's loyalties really lie. There is nothing of flag waving in the Government's attitude. Now we can see who really wants to protect British interests and who does not. If British Coal does not win the contracts that it deserves, that will go down as one of the most tragic stabs in the back that the industry has ever suffered from the current Government.