Inward Investment – Gleision

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): As the Secretary of State will be aware, at least two coal mines in south Wales, Aberpergwm and Unity, have been in receipt of inward investment that is growing their employment and output. May I thank both mines for voluntarily helping to resource the rescue and investigation work following the terrible tragedy at the Gleision mine in the Swansea valley that caused the death of four experienced colliers, my constituents Charles Breslin, Philip Hill, Garry Jenkins and David Powell? May I also thank the Secretary of State for her support over this tragedy, which has included ensuring that the Government have agreed to provide the 25% uplift—equivalent to the charitable gift aid that could have been claimable—to the total raised by the Swansea Valley miners appeal fund, which is now rising towards £400,000, which shows an extraordinary and heartfelt public response? May I also thank the mines rescue service, the principal inspector of mines and the South Wales police for their dedicated and at times heroic work at Gleision?

Mrs Gillan: Like the right hon. Gentleman, I pay tribute to those who so valiantly led the rescue efforts in the immediate aftermath of last month’s tragedy at the Gleision mine, and I pay tribute to the right hon. Gentleman for his work in his constituency. He and I saw those efforts at first hand, and I know the impact that that event will have had on his local community. As the shadow Secretary of State says, I have agreed that the Government will contribute to the Swansea Valley miners appeal fund to cover the amount that the fund would have been able to claim back as gift aid while its application for charitable status was being processed. I am pleased to say that charitable status has now been secured, and we in the Wales Office are working with the fund organisers on the details of the Government payment.

Mr Hain: I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that. I believe that there are a number of important lessons from the Gleision tragedy for the future of mines safety and rescue. Will she therefore ensure that the Government delays the report of Professor Lofstedt, due by the end of this month, on regulations covering mining, among other sectors, so that account can be taken of a submission that I plan for her and her Cabinet colleagues?

Mrs Gillan: I understand that Professor Lofstedt is conducting an independent review of the overall regulatory framework covering health and safety legislation and its effectiveness. He issued a call for evidence in May and is now in the process of writing up his report. As this is an independent review, it would not be appropriate for my right hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for employment or the Government to intervene in the timing of the report. However, I am sure that any lessons that can be learned from the investigation into the tragic events at the Gleision mine will be incorporated into any recommendations from Professor Lofstedt’s report that are taken forward by the Health and Safety Executive. I look forward to receiving the right hon. Gentleman’s submission on this subject.