Coal Industry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:19 pm on 25th May 1995.

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Photo of Mr Richard Page Mr Richard Page , South West Hertfordshire 5:19 pm, 25th May 1995

This has been an interesting debate although, I confess, it has been a little short on the substance of the order and fairly long on constituency problems. However, I see no harm in that. Part of the skill of any interested Member of Parliament is, wherever possible, to raise constituency problems. It is a matter of a battle of wits with the occupant of the Chair to see whether one can float in and out of order to convey one's message.

I had a most enjoyable visit to the Koyo bearing factory in the constituency of the hon. Member for Barnsley, West and Penistone (Mr. Clapham). I was most impressed by it. It is a classic and shining example of the Government's inward investment scheme, which has brought several hundred jobs to the hon. Gentleman's constituency. No doubt he will thank the Government for that significant move in the right direction.

As I said in my opening remarks, the purpose of the order is to allow the Government to continue supporting the coal industry for a further year in order to help it to adapt to changed circumstances. The main restructuring expenditures to be charged against British Coal's accounts this year will be in respect of retraining and the job creation activities of British Coal Enterprise.

I admired the way in which the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) raised a constituency problem. I shall not respond to it, but I shall make some inquiries and come back to him on his particular difficulty.

Nor shall I respond to the unwarranted and, I thought, unjustifiable attack by the hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr. Tipping) on Mr. Lynk, who is carrying out valuable and important work for the coal communities. The hon. Gentleman seemed to be upset by the fact that Mr. Lynk is getting less money than a Member of Parliament. We all have our ways of approaching these matters.

I come now to the eulogy of the hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell) in respect of BCE, which was echoed by other Members of Parliament. I commend its valuable work. It might be churlish of me to remind hon. Members that when BCE was first created Opposition Members were rather hostile to it. However, I am quite prepared to be churlish when the occasion demands. [HON MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, hon. Members were.