Skinner pushes Government to help save Kellingley Colliery

Dennis Skinner.
Dennis Skinner.
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Former miner Dennis Skinner has clashed with energy minister Matt Hancock over the future of the UK’s last deep-pit coal mines.

The left-wing Labour MP asked when the Government was going to “hand over” the £70 million required to exhaust the remaining fuel reserves and prevent closure next year.

UK Coal plans to shut Kellingley in North Yorkshire and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire with the loss of 1,300 jobs.

In August, the Government confirmed it would not use state funds for the collieries, insisting a commercial loan should be used to delay closure.

But the plan suffered a setback when mining group Hargreaves Services withdrew support.

Mr Skinner (Bolsover), who has repeatedly raised the issue in the Commons, said: “Oil and gas companies get tax breaks to exploit narrow seams of oil, renewables get subsidies, nuclear power gets subsidies.

“The only industry that does not get any help is the coal industry.

“I put it to the minister, who is anxious to get to his feet, that we need £70 million to save three deep mine pits. If they got that kind of money, they could exhaust all their reserves.

“The Government stole £700 million from the mineworkers’ pension scheme last February. We only want £70 million. Come on, let’s have a bit of balance. When will you tell us you are going to hand over the money?”

Mr Hancock said as somebody who comes from “Nottinghamshire coal mining stock” he was working to support UK Coal.

He added: “Last month, we put £4 million into keeping UK Coal running, thank you very much, so of course we are acting on this, and we are working towards further support if we can make it state aid-compliant and if it provides value for money.”

Mr Skinner jumped back to his feet and said: “Don’t come to my constituency with that ...” before being called to order by Speaker John Bercow.