British Coal Enterprise

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 2:22 pm on 12th July 1995.

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Photo of Hugh Bayley Hugh Bayley , City of York 2:22 pm, 12th July 1995

To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many new jobs have been created by British Coal Enterprise. [32119]

Photo of Mr Richard Page Mr Richard Page , South West Hertfordshire

British Coal Enterprise estimates that it has helped with the creation of 51,300 jobs through its business funding activity and 15,000 jobs through its workspace activities. Through its job and career change scheme, BCE has also provided help to some 57,000 ex-employees of British Coal seeking work. Of those, BCE estimates that some 50,000 found jobs, either directly or following a period of retraining.

Photo of Hugh Bayley Hugh Bayley , City of York

Many hon. Members from mining areas might dispute those figures. Nevertheless, British Coal Enterprise has invested considerable sums of money in former coalfield communities. If that is good for the coalfields, why is it not good for the railways? What plans do the Government have to set up a British Rail Enterprise to replace the tens of thousands of railway jobs that have been lost as a result of privatisation?

Photo of Mr Richard Page Mr Richard Page , South West Hertfordshire

I am the first to pay tribute to the work done by British Coal Enterprise in providing jobs for people in former mining communities. Providing jobs for ex-railway workers is a matter for the Secretary of State for Transport. I look the hon. Gentleman straight in the eye and say that I fully accept that difficulties have arisen in his constituency as a result of the unemployment caused by the closure of a railway manufacturing company. However, in his travel-to-work area, unemployment is only 5.7 per cent., which is way below the national average. There should, therefore, be a good chance of people finding work in his constituency.