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Mining Review 19/3: The Plan (1965)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

The commentary doubles as a synopsis and has therefore been reproduced in full:

Mr George Brown has published the National Economic Plan for Britain. Health, education, administration, building and manufacturing are, the plan says, going to need another million workers by 1970. Coal, it is suggested, can provide some of them. The contribution of coal to a steadily rising need for energy can be allowed to shrink to between 170 and 180 million tons a year, and miners be released.

But that is 20-30 million tons less than the 200 million tons a year which Lord Robens believes the coal industry can produce most efficiently. Not surprisingly, he thinks he will be able to bend the plan, that the planners have underestimated the coal industry's spectacular new developments, and that the nation's pits will be able to raise and sell a great deal more coal than the plan predicts.

Even as the plan was announced, a new contract to supply Italy with another 2 million tons of coal was being signed. Yet even if the plan is an accurate forecast, it does not mean that in the next five years any more pits will be closed than have been closed since 1960. Closures will be planned, as they are always planned, in consultation with the unions, the government and the new regional councils. There will be time to create new jobs in other industries for former miners.

Many will be able to transfer to other coalfields. They will get better transfer allowances. Most miners will be able to stay where they are, in jobs for life in an industry already leading the nation in increased productivity.

The plan is not telling Coal or anyone else what they must do. It is what the government thinks will happen, if Britain can raise and sell more coal than the plan predicts, keep more miners in the industry than expected, there will be no complaints.

This will only mean that there will be less need to import fuel, so our balance of payments position will be helped. And, after all, this is what the national plan is about. The next five years will show whose plan was right.