HC Deb 14 May 1984 vol 60 c13
9. Mr. Skeet

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will assess the effect each month that the miners' dispute continues on the number of coal mines which will be able to operate safely when the dispute ends.

Mr. Giles Shaw

Responsibility for the maintenance of safety at NCB collieries rests with the board. It is seeking to limit the deterioration in conditions at those pits that are not working, but difficulties will increase with the extension of the stoppage. If remedial action is not taken as and when safety problems appear, this could prevent some pits re-opening at the end of the dispute.

Mr. Skeet

I trust that my hon. Friend is aware that coal faces become geologically unstable if left for a period of time. As this crisis has been continuing for two and a half months, will my hon. Friend give us hard facts as to how many mines have been partially closed or are likely to be closed, and how much machinery has been lost? Is he also aware that, although Mr. Scargill is against closures, he will probably be responsible in the long run for more closures than he expected?

Mr. Shaw

My hon. Friend will be aware that Bogside in Scotland was closed for safety reasons, and that a coal face at Rossington in the Doncaster area was sealed recently, with £2 million worth of equipment on it. The face would not have been lost but for the strike. If the NUM, when asked, had been willing to help by moving the face, it would have been saved.