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House of Lords

Monday, 15th December 1997.

The House met at half-past two of the clock: The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

Prayers--Read by the Lord Bishop of Leicester.

The Mining Engineering Industry

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will carry out early consultation with the mining engineering industry to consider the maintenance of an adequate home base for its national and international activities.

Lord Haskel: My Lords, my noble friend asks about early consultation. I am pleased to say that the Minister for Science, Energy and Industry will meet with the Association of British Mining Equipment Companies to discuss issues relating to the industry in two days' time.

Lord Hardy of Wath: My Lords, my noble friend's response to the Question is most gratifying, but will he ensure that his ministerial colleagues recognise that continuing international mining activity will be considerable, presenting the British industry with substantial opportunity provided that a significant home base is sustained?

Lord Haskel: My Lords, certainly the Department of Trade and Industry is working closely with the Association of British Mining Equipment Companies. The department provided financial assistance to conduct a detailed study of the relationship between the UK and worldwide markets. The survey included identifying how export markets could be developed further, which countries offer the best opportunities, and how the industry could export more effectively. This report has been completed, it is being studied and hopefully will be acted upon.

Lord Mason of Barnsley: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that mining engineers would benefit considerably from a more rapid development of clean coal technology and a slow down in the approval of gas fired stations? Has he had talks with the electricity generators with a view to--or at least the possibility of--assisting the coal-mining industry in the short term?

Lord Haskel: My Lords, as regards clean coal technology, the DTI's clean coal technology research and development programme, which involves the industry, universities and overseas organisations, has funded many projects. These projects are continuing and the department is committed to clean coal technology. As regards the use of coal by the electricity generators, that is a matter for two private companies to settle between them. The Government are not involved in any negotiations on that matter.

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Lord Ezra: My Lords, I support the Question tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Hardy. Is the noble Lord aware that the British mining machinery industry developed its substantial overseas market on the basis of the use made of such machinery in British mines, and that one of the big selling points was being able to demonstrate to overseas customers how those machines were used on coal-faces in this country? Will the Government ensure that that will still be possible?

Lord Haskel: My Lords, I acknowledge the noble Lord's concern. The UK mining equipment industry has made considerable strides in recent years to reduce its dependence on British markets by selling into export markets and by diversification. But the study which I mentioned has tried to tackle this question. Some demonstration of British equipment will be arranged, if possible, in British pits.

Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, how can an adequate home base for mining be maintained when most of the coal that is currently used is imported and is either subsidised or mined using cheap labour?

Lord Haskel: My Lords, I am not sure that I agree with the noble Lord that most of the coal that is imported is subsidised. Certainly the British Government are taking up vigorously with the German and Spanish Governments the question of their coal subsidies and considerable progress is being made on that matter.

Lord Molloy: My Lords, will my noble friend consider--if he has not mentioned this already--holding consultations with the National Union of Mineworkers?

Lord Haskel: My Lords, this is a matter for the coal-mining companies and the electricity generation companies with whom they are negotiating. The sale of coal from one to the other is a matter for them, not the Government.

Sir Walter Raleigh: Statue

2.43 p.m.

Baroness Trumpington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider moving the statue of Sir Walter Raleigh to a more suitable site.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, a proposal by Madam Speaker to move the statue of Sir Walter Raleigh to St. Margaret's churchyard was approved in principle by the then Secretary of State for National Heritage under the Public Statues (Metropolis) Act 1854. That approval was conditional upon Madam Speaker obtaining the necessary planning consent from Westminster City Council. I understand that planning consent was refused for the site proposed but that discussions are continuing about an alternative location in the vicinity.

Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, it seems to me that this is a very simple matter and that planning

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permission should be granted immediately. Would Victoria Gardens, for instance, be a suitable location? Sir Walter Raleigh was a very great man, particularly as the first importer of tobacco; however, his statue makes him appear minuscule--especially since it stands next to perfectly enormous statues of two very gallant field marshals. The sooner he is moved, the better. I ask the Minister again for a date when it can be done.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, in response to the noble Baroness's first Question, Madam Speaker, the Royal Fine Art Commission and English Heritage were all in favour of the move to St. Margaret's churchyard. That is still possible; the site was, however, deemed unsuitable by Westminster City Council. I agree with the noble Baroness that the statue of Sir Walter Raleigh looks rather small in comparison with Viscounts Alanbrooke, Montgomery and Slim. However, it must be remembered that Raleigh himself thought that his future location was in doubt. He wrote:

    "Like to a hermit poor in place obscure

    I mean to spend my days of endless doubt".

Lord Avebury: My Lords, would it not be better to leave him where he is as a demonstration to young people of how smoking stunts your growth?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, as a non-smoker but one who is a supporter of smoking in public places, I prefer to think of Sir Walter Raleigh as a very great love poet.

Lord Weatherill: My Lords, is the Minister aware that this saga started about 10 years ago, that we have Sir Walter Raleigh's body in front of the High Altar at St. Margaret's, Westminster, but that we lost his head? It was our feeling at the time that he should be reunited with, and relocated near, his body in St. Margaret's, Westminster.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, Sir Walter Raleigh was in fact executed in Old Palace Yard, the site of our current car park. I do not believe that the authorities would look kindly on that.

To return to the second question of the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, no doubt if St. Margaret's churchyard does not work out as a site, other sites could be looked at. I agree with her that it should be done quickly.

Viscount Montgomery of Alamein: My Lords, in view of the fact that Sir Walter Raleigh was a distinguished seafarer, would it not be more appropriate to put him overlooking water, such as beside the Thames?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am tempted again to quote from Sir Walter himself:

    "When I was gone, she sent her memory,

    More strong than are ten thousand ships of war".

I believe that a better place than anywhere else for Sir Walter would be on what is still called Raleigh Green.

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Lord Monkswell: My Lords, bearing in mind the revenues generated by tobacco sales, would it not be apposite to consider placing his statue either opposite No. 11 Downing Street or by the doors of Her Majesty's Treasury? Returning to the substance of the initial Answer, surely it is right that the local planning authority has some significant input into where the statue will eventually be placed?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I was afraid that this would develop into a Christmas question, and I see that it has. Yes, the local planning authority has the ultimate right to agree or disagree.

Young Offenders: Secure Accommodation

2.47 p.m.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy on the detention of young offenders following the recent statement by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons that he does "not believe that children under 18 should be held in prison".

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, the Government recognise and share the concerns expressed. This is a long-standing issue which the previous government failed to resolve. This Government's policy is to move towards a situation where it is no longer necessary to remand 15 to 16 year-old boys to prison. We have reviewed this whole difficult area and decided that the priority is to give the courts the right range of powers to remand juveniles to secure accommodation, and that is what the Crime and Disorder Bill will do. We hope that the outcome of the current review of the secure juvenile estate and the work which the Prison Service is currently doing will see the end of the practice of detaining juveniles with adults.

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