§ MR. SERJEANT SPINKS
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether, having regard to the provisions and intent of the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 35 and 36 Vic, c. 76, s. 44, Her Majesty's Inspectors of Coal Mines should be permitted to attend as witnesses before Parliamentary and other tribunals, and to give evidence there, upon the terms of receiving special fees and remuneration in excess of the allowance for expenses out of pocket, and otherwise, ordinarily made to witnesses of that class; whether such inspectors are entitled, on occasion of giving evidence, to produce and use, without express permission from Government, maps, plans, surveys, and other documents furnished to or obtained by them in their official capacity; and, whether he will, if necessary, make and enforce regulations on the subject?
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
, in reply, said, Her Majesty's Inspectors of Coal Mines could not refuse to attend as witnesses before Parliamentary and other tribunals if they were summoned by the Speaker's Warrant or by subpoena. The same rule applied as in the case of an ordinary subpoena duces tecum to produce official documents in a Court of Law. When called to give evidence they might attend with documents obtained by them in their official capacity; but if, in the Secretary of State's opinion, it 875 was not for the benefit of the public service that the documents should be produced, instructions were given to the officer to state that circumstance to the Judge, who in such cases invariably refused to allow the production of the documents. The Inspectors of Coal Mines were not permitted to receive special fees and remuneration in excess of the allowance for their expenses as witnesses, nor were they permitted to use any special information they might have received in the course of their employment as confidential communications, whether such communications were in the nature of maps, plans, surveys, &c, required by the Coal Mines Regulation Act, to be kept secret or otherwise. He was not aware of the necessity of making any special regulations on the subject; but if the necessity were shown, he should do so.