I am pleased to be able to speak in this debate and I thank the Benchbench Business Committee for bringing it forward.
I really hope that tonight’s debate will give the Government an opportunity to reflect on their position and put right the injustice felt by thousands of former miners in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney and across the country. We must consider what has been contributed over past decades. Thousands of miners, as we have heard, gave the best years of their lives and worked in dangerous conditions. In many cases they gave their health, and in some cases even their lives, for the coal industry. There can probably be no greater price paid for coal than the Aberfan disaster in my constituency in 1966 when 116 children and 28 adults lost their lives.
My paternal grandfather was killed in Ogilvie colliery in 1944 when he was just 32 and my own father was just one year old. On my mother’s side, my great-uncle was killed in 1962 at Elliot colliery in New Tredegar at just 19 years of age. Sadly, these losses were replicated all too often across the coalfields and over the decades. In addition, hundreds, if not thousands, of miners suffered poor health over many years, including my maternal grandfather, who suffered many years of ill-health due to his many years as a miner.