Energy Review

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 25th June 1998.

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Photo of Mr Tony Benn Mr Tony Benn Labour, Chesterfield 3:30 pm, 25th June 1998

In hoping that the President will disregard the totally hypocritical comments of the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood), whose party consciously, deliberately and politically destroyed the coal industry throughout its period of government; and in thanking her for providing some alleviation to the short-term crisis afflicting the industry may I ask whether she recognises that any serious, long-term energy policy for Britain must take account of the fact that there is 1,000 years of coal under our territory, which is mined by some of the most highly skilled engineers in the world? It must also take account of the fact that nuclear power is much more expensive than coal, that opencast coal mining inflicts terrible environmental damage on mining areas—where people lose their jobs and their environment—and that up to 40,000 jobs in the mining manufacturing industry could be endangered if the domestic mining industry is allowed to collapse. Does she recognise that competitiveness, level playing fields and market forces are not the basis on which a nation can preserve its long-term policy, as the oil crisis of 1973 should have taught us all?