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On Thursday 9 May 2024 there will be a debate in the House of Commons Chamber on a motion on miners and mining communities. The debate is sponsored by Grahame Morris MP (Lab) and James Grundy MP (Con) and the topic was chosen by the Backbench Business Committee. This debate was originally listed for Thursday 1 February 2024, but was rescheduled following a change in Commons business on that day.

At its peak in 1920, the UK coal industry employed 1.2 million workers. However, the industry saw a continued decline from the 1960s onwards as many mines were closed. The 1984-1985 miners’ strike was a major period of industrial action, when many workers protested against the closure of collieries. Over 11,000 people were arrested and around 8,000 were charged in these protests, of whom 150-200 were imprisoned.

British Coal was privatised in 1994 alongside the closure of many more mining operations. The last deep coal mine in the UK, Kellingley, closed in December 2015, leaving only a handful of open cast mines.

Many mineworkers from before British Coal was privatised are still members of the Mineworkers Pension Scheme (MPS). Many former mineworkers and their widows or widowers also continue to receive concessionary solid fuel deliveries (or cash equivalent) from the National Concessionary Fuel Scheme.

The National Union of Mineworkers, founded in 1945, was the major trade union for mineworkers for much of the 20th Century. The union’s 2022 annual return indicated membership has fallen below 200.

Statista notes that the UK mining industry today mostly consists of construction materials and industrial minerals mining, with metal mining having followed a similar fate to the coal mining industry, although mining of some non-ferrous ores such as tungsten has seen an increase in recent years.

This debate pack provides more detailed background on four areas:

  • The arrangements surrounding the Mineworkers Pension Scheme.
  • The compensation schemes available for former miners suffering from mining related illness.
  • Legislation to grant pardons to those convicted of offences relating to the miners strike of 1984-85.
  • Schemes and proposals for levelling up and investment in former coalfield areas.

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