CAPTAIN HEATHCOTE (Staffordshire, N.W.)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If he is aware that in 1880 the death rate per 1,000 men employed in coal and ironstone mines in North Staffordshire was 6.61, the death rate for Great Britain and Ireland being only 2.72, and that in 1887 the death rate for North Staffordshire was reduced to 1.35, as against 1.89 for Great Britain and Ireland: also that in 1880 only 55,546 tons were raised in North Staffordshire per life lost, as against 122,509 tons raised in Great Britain and Ireland, whilst in 1887 263,733 tons were raised per life lost in North Staffordshire as against 173,919 tons in Great Britain and Ireland; and, whether, considering these circumstances, he will disregard mere official seniority, and, in accordance with the 1414 strongly expressed wishes of both the employers and employed in North Staffordshire, appoint to the vacant Inspectorship the Sub-Inspector under whose management this remarkable improvement has taken place in the death rate of the peculiarly difficult and dangerous coal-field of North Staffordshire, instead of appointing an Inspector whose experience has been gained in a coal-field of a totally different character?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
The figures given are correct, and are very satisfactory; but the improvement shown cannot be attributed exclusively to inspection, as my hon. Friend would seem to suggest; and it certainly would not be fair to attribute it solely to the inspection of the Assistant Inspector, and not at all to that of the Senior Inspector in charge of the district, who is about to retire, an able public servant of long service, to whose great experience, and to whose exertions against the use of blasting powers, it has been largely due that the district has, happily, been so free from explosions of recent years. Mere official seniority constitutes in itself no claim for promotion; but when conjoined with efficiency and aptitude, it constitutes a claim which I should not be justified in passing by. I am fully aware of the good services of the Sub-Inspector of the district; but the gentleman I am about to appoint is not only six years his senior, but is recognized as one of the most able mining engineers on the Home Office staff; and I have full confidence that, with the co-operation of the Sub-Inspector, who will remain in the district, he will efficiently safeguard the interests of both employers and employed.
asked whether the gentleman about to be appointed had had experience in the North Staffordshire coal-fields?