Threatened mines 'will be sold on open market'
Monday 01 February 1993
With some ministerial sources hinting that 18 of the 31 target pits could still be scheduled for shutdown, Malcolm Edwards, the former commercial director of British Coal, said many of the mines might well find a market and prove profitable.
Mr Edwards said he was interested in licensing Markham Main, Frickley, Rossington and Bentley, but it was unlikely that all of those mines would be shut, as the Government's consultant, J T Boyd, put all but Markham Main near the top of its list of potentially viable mines. Mr Edwards said he was convinced Markham Main's economics could be changed through worker participation, improved management and changes in working practices.
He said he had customers who would take the coal, but he was concerned that the fabric of the mine would deteriorate if it was allowed to stand idle for long.
Interviewed on the BBC 2's Money Programme, Mr Clarke said mines marked down for closure in the government White Paper would be made available by competitive tender. 'If they are going to be closed and people wish to operate them, as far as I am concerned, they will be offered for sale to those who wish to operate them,' he said.
But that would require high- speed privatisation legislation - something Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, is prepared to promise when he issues his White Paper.
That is expected around the time of the Budget, on 16 March, and will be followed by a Commons debate and a vote that will test whether ministers and government whips have accurately gauged backbench feeling.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet is expected to return to the fray on Thursday following publication of last week's Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee report. John Major and Mr Heseltine have not only to balance the left- right tensions of Cabinet colleagues, but also the demands of interests that are strictly beyond their control - like the privatised electricity industry, its statutory regulator and the courts.
The White Paper will then need to overcome the doubts of Tory backbench rebels. A BBC Television On the Record interview with three Tory MPs yesterday underlined the problems ahead.
Raymond Robertson, MP for Aberdeen South, said the gas interests of his constituents needed stronger representation against the coal lobby. John Marshall (Hendon South) said there was a danger of the Government returning to 'lame duck' bail-outs. And Keith Hampson, MP for Leeds North West and a member of the select committee, would not answer questions on his intentions if the White Paper fell short of the committee's recommendations.
But the difficulties did not appear to be confined to the government benches. On Friday, Robin Cook, Labour's trade and industry spokesman, said: 'Labour will build on the select committee report to demand an energy strategy that secures the future of the remaining pits under threat.'
Yesterday, on BBC Television's Breakfast with Frost, when asked whether he would keep all 31 pits open, Mr Cook said: 'If you kept the present volume of coal burn, then you would certainly keep nearly all those pits open.'
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 'Do not give them a reason': Baltimore man divides police and rioters in hope of avoiding violence
- 3 X Factor in crisis as numbers of people auditioning plummets
- 4 Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
General Election 2015: Tories suspend candidate who said she would never support 'the Jew' Ed Miliband
Bali Nine executions: Indonesia confirms killings of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will go ahead
The four utterly contradictory polls that tell the story of this election and why it is pointless trying to predict the outcome
General Election 2015: Prospect of Labour-SNP coalition makes one in four voters less likely to support Ed Miliband, says survey
Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...
£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...
£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...
£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...