Coal Industry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:08 pm on 25th May 1995.

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Photo of Mr Richard Page Mr Richard Page , South West Hertfordshire 4:08 pm, 25th May 1995

I beg to move, That the draft Coal Industry (Restructuring Grants) Order 1995, which was laid before this House on 1st May, be approved. This will be the ninth annual order under section 3 of the Coal Industry Act 1987, and it has two purposes. First, it specifies the kind of restructuring expenditure incurred by British Coal in the present financial year for which grant may be paid. Those are: redundancy and early retirement; retraining through the job and career exchange scheme; and, new employment. The latter includes the costs incurred by British Coal Enterprise in promoting new job opportunities in areas affected by pit closures.

Those are the same categories of expenditure as was specified in last year's order, except for transfer allowances, which are not included in this year's order, since British Coal will not be incurring any expenditure in that area this year.

Secondly, the order sets at 90 per cent.—as last year—the maximum percentage of restructuring costs which can be met by restructuring grant in the current financial year.

Restructuring grant has proved to be an essential part of the Government's assistance to British Coal. It has helped the industry to adapt to changing circumstances, by supporting generous redundancy terms for miners and staff who are losing jobs as a result of closures and efficiency improvements. British Coal Enterprise estimates that it has created over 120,000 job opportunities, and retrained and resettled, mostly in alternative employment, some 57,000 people since 1984.

The order will allow the Government to continue to support the industry for a further year. The main expenditures this year will be related to retraining and new employment.

I commend the order to the House.