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Column 818Leighton, Ron
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Moonie, Dr Lewis
O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Pike, Peter L.
Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Smith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E)
Strang, Dr. Gavin
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Wareing, Robert N
Tellers for the Ayes :
Mr. Michael Clapham and
Mr. Bill Etherington.
Question accordingly agreed to .
That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Coal Industry Bill ("the Act"), it is expedient to authorise--
(1) the payment out of money provided by Parliament of the following, namely--
(a) sums required by the Secretary of State for paying to the Coal Authority established by the Act amounts required by that Authority for carrying out its functions ;
(b) expenses incurred by the Treasury or the Secretary of State in consequence of provision made by the Act for the acquisition of, or of rights to subscribe for, securities of successor companies ; (
(c) sums required by the Secretary of State for making grants to the British Coal Corporation and to successor companies which are wholly owned by the Crown ;
(d) sums required by the Secretary of State for making payments for purposes connected with the supply of concessionary coal and the payment of sums in lieu of concessionary coal ;
(e) sums required by the Secretary of State for making any payment of compensation for loss of office--
(i) to a person who ceases to hold office as a chairman or member of the Corporation, or
(ii) to the person who is the chairman of the Domestic Coal Consumers' Council when it ceases to exist ;
(f) sums required by the Secretary of State for making payments in pursuance of arrangements entered into by him for securing that the assets of an existing pension scheme are sufficient for meeting pension obligations arising under the scheme ;
(g) administrative expenses incurred by the Secretary of State or the Treasury in consequence of the provisions of the Act ; (
(h) sums required by any Minister of the Crown or Government department for meeting obligations arising in consequence of that Minister or department becoming entitled or subject, in accordance with a scheme under the Act, to any property, rights or liabilities ;
(i) increases attributable to the Act in the sums payable out of money so provided under any other Act ;
(2) the extinguishment of liabilities of the British Coal Corporation in respect of--
(a) sums lent to that Corporation out of money provided by Parliament ;
Column 819(b) sums which are to be taken as having been so lent ; and (
(c) interest in respect of any such sums ;
(3) the issuing out of the National Loans Fund of sums required by the Secretary of State for making loans to a successor company at a time when it is wholly owned by the Crown ;
(4) the charging on and issuing out of the Consolidated Fund of sums required by the Treasury for fulfilling such guarantees given by them for the discharge of financial obligations in connection with sums borrowed by a successor company as are given in respect of such a company at a time when it is wholly owned by the Crown. In this Resolution "successor company" means any company to whom property, rights or liabilities of the British Coal Corporation or any of its wholly-owned subsidiaries are transferred in accordance with a scheme under the Act and at a time when the company is wholly owned by the Crown.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Coal Industry Bill, it is expedient to authorise--
(a) the making by the Coal Authority established by the Act of charges for things done in the exercise and performance of its powers and duties ;
(b) the imposition of charges to corporation tax by provisions relating to the taxation of persons to and from whom property, rights and liabilities are transferred in accordance with schemes under the Act ; and
(c) the payment of sums into the Consolidated Fund or the National Loans Fund.-- [Mr. Kirkhope.]
Several hon. Members rose --
Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes) : Order. Before I call hon. Members, may I make it clear that the Ways and Means motion deals with specific charges. It is not an excuse for a re-run of the provisions of the Bill.
Paragraph (a) of the motion states :
"the making by the Coal Authority established by the Act of charges for things done in the exercise and performance of its powers and duties ;". [Interruption.]
Madam Deputy Speaker : Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but there is still a general buzz of conversation, which is not confined to hon. Members from one party. It is discourteous to the hon. Gentleman.
I should like to speak about the Coal Authority that will be established by the Bill and about the charges for the exercise of its powers and duties. Surprisingly, some powers have been left out of the authority's remit. The timing of the Bill and the associated legislation is deplorable. In the previous debate, the hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens) spoke about an industry in the grasp of politicians, and said that politicians should not involve themselves in the running of an industry. To some extent, I agree with him, and ask why politicians have retained an interest in the running of the nuclear power industry by way of subsidy to that industry. That subsidy is not available to coal.
Mr. Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth) : The hon. Gentleman invites me to explain. He was a member of the Select Committee on Energy and knows that the suggestion that the nuclear industry should be privatised could not be made bankable because the generators could not explain the costs of decommissioning. If that had been explained, privatisation would have been a bankable matter and could have gone ahead.
Mr. Illsley : The hon. Gentleman is right : he and I served on that Select Committee. When we examined the evidence that the Department of Energy was willing to present--that which was not comercially confidential- -we realised that the nuclear power industry had been uneconomic for many years. The price of coal to the generators had not increased since 1985, and it was apparent that coal had subsidised nuclear power for many years. The industry suffered greatly as a consequence, but
Column 821I shall not debate the nuclear power industry, not only because it is outside the terms of the motion, but because I am aware of sedentary admonition from some of my hon. Friends.
The coal industry has been run down from 1985. Prices have not been increased and in the past two years the industry has been run down even more rapidly, and that has led to the Bill and the associated legislation. Over the past 18 months the President of the Board of Trade has announced the closure of 30 pits, and in the months ahead there are likely to be many more. Press releases in the past few days have shown that seven collieries are scheduled to close.
It is ludicrous to debate this legislation at a time when the coal industry is in turmoil. Nobody can say how many collieries will be left this time next year or whether any will be left. Established coal contracts are for about half the tonnage agreed in previous years. We now have a much reduced market and a large number of colliery closures. The Bill, the resolution and the Coal Authority are not strong enough to deal with what is happening now. It is the wrong time to be considering the privatisation of the industry which is in such turmoil that we should take the Bill, the Ways and Means resolution, the money resolution and the rest and rethink the idea of coal privatisation.
Mr. Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough) rose--