HC Deb 17 May 1881 vol 261 cc685-6

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If he has had his attention called to that portion of Mr. Wright's Report on the Pen-y-Graig Explosion, in which he states the following with respect to Moses Rowlands, the manager of that colliery, viz.:— The nominal manager of the colliery is Moses Rowlands, a nephew of one of the proprietors. He has had no experience in the working of steam coal, except for a short time as a boy of 10 or 12 years of age. The following is his history:—Born in 1843, he from 10 to 12 years of his age cut coal at Aberdare and Rhondda; then he did clerk's work at Gwendraeth Colliery for about five years (18:55 to 1860). He was then at a national school for some time. He was then at a house coal (not steam coal) colliery at Pen-y-Graig belonging to his uncle for 13 or 14 years (1861 to 1873) as a clerk, storekeeper, and measurer, principally at book work, and, as he expressly stated, not engaged in the practical duties of mine managing. In 1873 he went to assist his father, the certificated manager of another house coal colliery at Pen-y-Graig. He remained there five years, holding no regular office as manager, overman, fireman, or otherwise. In 1878 he came to the Naval Steam Coal Colliery (where the explosion now in question occurred), of which his uncle was and is a proprietor; and he has been the certificated manager from then till now. He obtained his certificate, not by examination, but by a certificate under section 31 of the Act, signed by the Secretary of State, to the effect that he had within five years before the passing of this Act (the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1872) acted for not less than 12 months in the capacity of a manager of a mine.' This certificate, if the foregoing history as told by him is true, was entirely false, and he must have known it to be false, inasmuch as according to his own showing he did not begin to act in any capacity as manager of a mine, even as his father's assistant, until 1873; and the proprietors of the colliery, or some of them, must have known it to be false. This manager appears to have brought himself within the provisions of section 38 of the Coal Mines Regulation Act, by which the use of a false certificate with knowledge of its falsity is a misdemeanour punishable with two years' hard labour. The proprietors of the colliery are equally liable to punishment if they were accessory to the nephew's offence. One at least of the proprietors (the manager's uncle) took an active part in the affairs of the colliery; and, whether, considering that the Commissioner charges him with fraudulently obtaining his certificate, and for such offence he is liable to two years' hard labour, he will direct that his certificate be at once withdrawn, or he be tried for an offence in the ordinary course of Law?


, in reply, said, that he had been in communication with Mr. Wright on this subject, and the hon. Member was aware that the Government had carefully considered what course should be taken in regard to it. A prosecution had been instituted against the manager with a view to revoke his certificate for misconduct and negligence. The prosecution failed, and he was absolved. In those circumstances, considering the whole character of that case, he did not think it would be right to go back to anterior proceedings six or seven years ago, and institute another prosecution, which he did not think was likely to succeed. The Government could not undertake a second prosecution in that case. He had, however, given instructions that a special inspection of that mine should be made, and a particular Report be made to him as to the present management.