§ MR. CUNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N.W.)
I bog to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the workmen employed in Knockterra Pit appointed Mr. Keir Hardie, their Union Secretary, to intimate to the manager their appointment of a check-weigher; whether the manager refused to accept the intimation from Mr. Hardie; whether the Mines Inspector for the district refused to interfere in the matter; and, whether, in view of these facts, a body of workmen have not power to appoint their Union Secretary to make an intimation on their behalf; and, if they have such power, on what grounds the Inspector of Mines refused to prosecute the manager for a breach of "The Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1888," in having prevented the check-weigher from performing his duties after such legal notice had been given? I beg also to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether notice of the election of a check-weigher at Knockterra Pit was made to the manager in writing, signed by two of the workmen; whether, on 1261 the morning following the said notice being given, the two men signing it were dismissed and the check-weigher prevented by force from performing his duty; and, whether this case was reported to the Inspector of Mines, who caused an investigation to be made, and found the facts to be as recited above; and, if so, whether it is in contemplation to prosecute the manager for a contravention of the provisions of the Mines Act; and, if not, can he explain for what reason?
§ THE HOME SECRETARY (Mr. H. MATTHEWS,) Birmingham, East
Mr. Keir Hardie wrote a letter to the overman of the Knockterra pit informing him that Richard Young had been duly elected check-weigher by the miners employed in the pit. He did not state that he was appointed by the workmen to give this notice, and the owners of the pit refused to accept it. The inspector, on being appealed to, wrote to both parties, saying it was a pity that such disputes should arise, and pointing out that, in his opinion, the owners were entitled to an intimation from the workmen themselves and not from an outsider. Afterwards, two workmen in the pit left a letter for Mr. Angus, the manager, informing him that they had been appointed by the workmen to give him notice of the appointment of a check-weigher, and after Mr. Angus had received this letter the check-weigher was installed in his position. In the meantime, the two workmen had been dismissed by the overman, not for giving the notice, but for absenting themselves from work. They have since been reinstated, and are at work again. On the general question I have nothing to add to what I said in the House on the 28th ult.
§ MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether a notice tendered on behalf of the workmen by the general secretary of their Association is insufficient under the provisions of the Act?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I am afraid I must decline to give an opinion on a legal question arising under the Act. The section is not explicit as to the manner in which the notice is to be given. I gave the best answer I could on the 28th of last month, and I will 1262 not take upon myself to say what, in all cases, will be sufficient.