A much-anticipated debate about coalfield communities is set to be had, 40 years on from the nationwide miners' strikes that saw the industry grind to a halt.

Easington MP Grahame Morris will lead the discussion, set to take place on Thursday this week (May 9). 

The debate originally planned for Thursday, February 1 was postponed following the introduction of emergency legislation on Northern Ireland’s Windsor Framework.

The debate coincides with the 40th anniversary of the miners' strike and will cover a range of issues including investment, regeneration and levelling up four decades after deindustrialisation. 

The debate is also an opportunity for Members of Parliament to support the Mineworkers Pension Scheme campaign to end the surplus-sharing arrangement.

Opponents have said these pension arrangements created after privatisation in the early 1990s have resulted in the government taking nearly £5 billion from the pension funds of retired miners.

Ahead of the debate, Mr Morris said: “Thirty years after the closure of East Durham's last pit, we live with the legacy of deindustrialisation with lower wages, employment, and investment. Our former coalfields should be a levelling-up priority but time and again the government ignores our communities. 

"Their neglect is evident in our struggling town centres and high streets. The industrial wages that once powered our local economy have never been replaced, impacting all sectors, including retail, hospitality and leisure, which are the backbone of thriving high streets. Boarded-up shops and derelict housing are the scars of economic failure.”

Mr Morris will also call on the Government to back recommendations by the former Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee to reform the Mineworkers Pension Scheme.

He said: “Miners endured harsh working conditions leading to shortened lives through industrial disease. The Government siphoned billions from the scheme, while some pensioners and their widows receive payments of as little as £10 a week, with a majority of payments being under £50 a week.

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"Pensioners are dying in poverty, and it's unacceptable for the government to be complicit by taking money out of the pension scheme. Retired miners deserve security in retirement.

“The majority of retired miners live in former coalfield communities. Enhancing their pensions injects more funds into the regional economy, increasing local spending that bolsters business, employment, and supports levelling-up.

"I cannot comprehend the Government’s opposition and blocking these reforms reinforces the Conservative Party’s hostility towards miners and coalfield communities which they still view as “the enemy within.”