NORTH-EAST MPs have backed a call for an independent inquiry into the Government’s handling of the Miners’ Strike.
Twenty-two MPs have signed an early day motion urging an investigation and requesting that the House of Commons acknowledged its dismay that senior cabinet ministers “micromanaged” the 1984/85 strike while claiming to be “innocent bystanders”.
Secret papers published last week revealed that the Government was aware that National Coal Board (NCB) chief Ian MacGregor was plotting to close 75 pits.
At the time, ministers and the NCB claimed that only 20 mines would shut.
As well as accusing senior ministers of deliberately misleading the public, the motion highlights a further revelation that Margaret Thatcher was considered deploying troops during the strike.
The motion was proposed by Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, an ex-miner and former president of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).
Writing about the issue last week, he said: “The Government and National Coal Board always claimed that only 20 or so collieries were to be closed.
“The NUM knew the number was far higher despite its vehement denial by MacGregor and Thatcher.
“(This new information) shows just how little regard was actually given to the people of the country who were deliberately misled by senior politicians and civil servants.”
Five other North-East MPs have backed the motion including Easington MP Grahame Morris and Ian Mearns, who represents Gateshead.
A typed record of a meeting held at Number 10 in September 1983 says: "Mr MacGregor had it in his mind over the three years 1983-85 that a further 75 pits would be closed. There should be no closure list, but a pit-by-pit procedure.
"The man power at the end of that time in the industry would be down to 138,000 from its current level of 202,000."
The meeting was attended by seven people, including Margaret Thatcher, and the minute, headed "not to be photocopied or circulated outside the private office", ends: "It was agreed that no record of this meeting should be circulated."
A second document written a week later by a senior civil servant suggested the same group should meet regularly in future but there should be "nothing in writing which clarifies the understandings about the strategy which exist between Mr MacGregor and the secretary of state for energy".
The early day motion states: “That this House is appalled to learn what thousands of people in mining communities have strongly suspected for 30 years in the wake of the release of the Cabinet papers relating to the 1984-85 miners' strike, that senior Cabinet ministers, including the Prime Minister, micromanaged the Government's side of the strike, whilst publicly claiming to be innocent bystanders; notes that, all along, the National Coal Board had the intention to close over 70 collieries whilst publicly claiming the number to be around 20; further notes that senior Cabinet Ministers deliberately misled the country; further notes that when those striking to protect their communities seemed to be on the verge of victory, the Government plotted to bring in the armed forces to avoid defeat; and furthermore demands a full independent inquiry into the then Government's handling of the 1984-85 miners'