Churchill presses case for instant rescue of 25 pits

WINSTON CHURCHILL, the Conservative backbencher, has called on the Government to save at least 25 closure-threatened pits immediately, and 20 in the long term.

Mr Churchill, MP for Davyhulme, yesterday warned Michael Heseltine, the President of the Board of Trade, that defeat on the issue on the floor of the House would be 'almost certainly fatal' for his political prospects.

Speaking at a lunch hosted by the Coal Industry Society, Mr Churchill said last Friday's proposals by the Commons Select Committee for Trade and Industry made it clear that 25 pits could be saved by government intervention. He said that the move was strongly endorsed by the 30 MPs in the Conservative Coal Group.

He warned: 'Select committees can be ridden over roughshod by a government with a majority of 100. They have to be heeded and treated with the greatest of respect by a government with a majority of 21.'

Mr Churchill said that the select committee's proposals for a coal subsidy of pounds 500m over five years should be viewed alongside savings of pounds 2bn in redundancy payments over the next two years if most of the 31 threatened pits are saved. There is a view that the 30,000 job losses announced by British Coal last October would be followed by a further 50,000 in related industries.

Mr Churchill also described as 'madness' any move to abandon one valuable energy source and to burn another instead - natural gas - twice as fast as would otherwise be the case. 'Within a generation we will risk running low on natural gas and what do we do at that point?'

Michael Clapham, MP for Barnsley West and Penistone, and a Labour member of the Commons committee, said yesterday that Friday's report provided a clear structure in which all pits could survive, including the 10 that are currently not being worked.

The closures issue will not be on the agenda for Thursday's Cabinet meeting, in spite of the urgency of the debate. The Government had hoped to publish a White Paper on energy policy and the future of coal by the middle of this month.

In spite of the growing pressure to save most of the 31 mines on the hit-list, British Coal is believed to be sceptical as to what can be done in practice. The select committee's rescue plan depends on National Power and PowerGen taking at least 16 million tons of extra fuel from British Coal and on the sale of 3 million tons to other industries.

Before the generators will take extra coal, they will want contracts guaranteeing that the electricity it generates can be sold to the 12 regional supply companies.

The select committee also assumes that imports of electricity from France can be reduced. Besides facing embarrassment in Europe by meddling with the French electricity link, the Government could also find itself liable for millions of pounds in compensation to the French.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Extras
indybest
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary teaching roles in Ipswich

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education re...

Science teachers needed in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teachers requ...

Semi Senior Accountant - Music

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful, Central London bas...

English teachers required in Lowestoft

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified English tea...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits