MP takes free-coal fight to Parliament

Welbeck Colliery police at the scene

Welbeck Colliery police at the scene

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A trio of local politicians have called on the Government to ensure former miners and their widows continue to get free fuel after UK Coal went into liquidation earlier this year.

Mansfield MP Sir Alan Meale tabled the debate in Parliament last week, after hundreds of the regions miners lost out on free coal for life and a cut in their pensions.

Sir Alan argued that, as former employees of the National Coal Board, miners who carried on working in the industry after it was privatised should have the same rights to the coal as those who retired from the industry prior to 1987.

Speaking in Westminster Hall, Sir Alan said: “I believe that the Government has a moral and financial responsibility to those who were promised concessionary fuel as part of their employment package, and who now find themselves at sea.

“Mineworkers die on the job, their lives are shortened by the work that they do, and we should be proud of them and support them in their old age.

“We should not think of trying to remove any entitlement that they have gained through their work.”

Thoresby Colliery, near Edwinstowe is the last remaining pit in the area, after Welbeck closed in 2010.

Bassetlaw MP John Mann added: “The term ‘concessionary coal’ suggests a give-away or perk, but the coal is part of the employment conditions and part of the pension.

“ A good comparator would be members of parliament who require remuneration for a second home.”

The debate was also supported by Sherwood MP Mark Spencer.

He said: “The Government often say that we should support hard-working people who do the right thing, and no career is harder than working in a coal mine. We have a moral obligation to assist those who worked in the mines,”