As the MP for a former mining community, I want to begin by stating how proud I am to know and represent the ex-miners and their families in Leigh. They are the pride of our town, and their stories are legendary. The coalmines were the beating heart of our community, and we owe the miners an enormous debt of gratitude for their service to our towns. It is for that reason that their struggle is so heartbreaking. For decades they bravely worked to serve their towns, and now they feel we have let them down. Some feel they have been exploited, and many are angry that they have not been given the respect and support they feel they have earned.
To treat former miners and their communities in the way they have been treated in the past few years, while reaping more than £4.4 billion for the Government coffers, is the height of disrespect. The £4.4 billion that the Government have received should have been used to invest in the miners’ towns, give them a high standard of living and ensure that their health and finances were fit to give them the dignity in retirement that they deserve.