I shall now conclude, otherwise I will incur the wrath of Madam Deputy Speaker.
Our mineworkers have served our country. They have served it loyally. They have toiled in the most dangerous and challenging working conditions imaginable. The contributions that miners have made to the wealth of our country was captured by George Orwell in his essay “Down the Mine” and I just want to read some lines from it:
“Our civilization…is founded on coal, more completely than one realizes until one stops to think about it. The machines that keep us alive, and the machines that make machines, were all directly or indirectly dependent upon coal.”
The importance of coal may have declined, but our gratitude to the miners should never wane and we owe them a debt of honour. Miners and their widows deserve better than poverty pensions. I am asking the Minister to end the pension theft and allow miners and their widows a better quality of life in retirement in their remaining years. Renegotiate the existing pension sharing arrangements. Do the right thing, Minister, and give the miners the money back that they have already earned.