§ 15. Mr. Penhaligon
asked the Secretary of State for employment what was the number employed in hard rock mining at the latest date and 10 years previously in Cornwall.
§ Mr. Peter Morrison
The limited official information available shows that in June 1978, the latest available date, there were 1,300 employees in Cornwall in mining and quarrying, other than for coal, stone or slate. In June 1971 there were 1,200.
§ Mr. Penhaligon
Will the Minister help this important part of the Cornish economy by investigating the 701 circumstances in which a small private company, Wheal Concorde, in my constituency was recently forced to lay off all its employees? Is he aware that the reason appears to be the sudden and arbitrary refusal by Rio Tinto Zinc to treat Wheal Concorde's ore, which is said to be worth about £400,000, thus destroying the company's cash flow, and perhaps the company at the same time?
§ Mr. Morrison
The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that I am not aware of the exact details. I suspect that this is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry, and I shall ensure that he is made aware of the hon. Gentleman's points.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
In so far as there is a direct connection between rock mining in Cornwall and slate mining in the Lakelands, might it not prove to be a good way of getting people back to work in areas of high unemployment if the Government were to invest in that industry and help with the pricing of its products on the market?
§ Mr. Morrison
The hon. Gentleman would have a point if money could be made available, but not at taxpayers' expense.