HC Deb 21 July 1885 vol 299 cc1393-5

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If his attention has been called to the following facts brought before the jury at the inquiry into the Clifton Hall Colliery Explosion, whereby 177 lives were lost: —That one of the firemen whose duty it was, according to the Mines Regulation Act, to examine the working places, and to keep a written record of their condition, could not read or write; that gas had often been seen in the mine; that the Trencherbone seam, in which the explosion took place, is the same as the Wigan nine-foot seam, in which many very serious explosions have occurred; that naked lights were generally used, and the miners were allowed to take pipes and tobacco into the working places, whether they worked with lamps or with naked lights; that, even when lamps were ordered, there was no uniformity of system, sometimes the Davy, sometimes the Clanny, or other lamp being used, at the option of the workmen; that Mr. Dickinson had repeatedly urged upon the owners, apparently without avail, the general use of safety lamps throughout the mine; whether he is aware that the Davy lamp, which was the lamp mostly in use at the Clifton Hall Colliery, gives a very imperfect light, and has been proved to be utterly unsafe when the ventilating current exceeds six feet per second; whether his attention has been called to a communication sent to the late Home Secretary by the Chairman of the Royal Commission on Accidents in Mines in December 1880, in which the following statement is made— The employment of the ordinary Davy lamp, without a shield of metal or glass, in an explosive mixture, when the current exceeds six feet a second, is attended with risk of accident almost amounting to certainty. The Clanny lamp, when tested in a similar current, has proved to he scarcely, if at all, less dangerous; and, whether, under all the circumstances, he will order a further inquiry into the management of the Clifton Hall Colliery, or whether, in any case, he will take steps to ensure that in future only safety lamps of the best kind are used in the colliery?


in reply, said, that his attention bad been called to this accident, and his Predecessor in Office had very properly sent a special counsel to inquire into the matter; but he had not yet received the Report. With regard to the second paragraph, it was quite true a fireman was employed who could not read or write; but he was withdrawn on the 9th February, and the accident did not take place until long after that date. The other paragraphs were also practically true; and with regard to the last he had to say that the Inspector had been to the colliery about this matter, and steps had been taken to insure that in future, in deference to general opinion, safety lamps were to be used exclusively, and such lamps were now being used. The provisions with regard to smoking wore in force. Ho would rather not say more of the accident until he had the Report from the counsel who went down to investigate into the matter.