§ MR. KENYON (Shropshire, Newport)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, having regard to the two terrible disasters in the mining districts of South Wales, and the loss of life thereby incurred, he is able to say how far the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Accidents in Mines have been put in force; whether the staff of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Mines is sufficient to thoroughly examine and report upon the condition of mines, especially those known as dangerous mines; and whether he can suggest any further instructions to the existing staff, with the view, if possible, of obviating these terrible catastrophes?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I cannot within the necessary limits of an answer fully state how far the recommendations of the Royal Commission have been adopted; but my hon. Friend is aware that they were for the most part embodied in the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1887, and are now in force throughout the country. I have no reason to believe that the present staff of Mines Inspectors is insufficient. All that the Government can do by the machinery of special rules for particular collieries, by prosecutions for breach of rules, and by suggestion and advice has been done to avert these disastrous explosions. The subject is constantly under my anxious consideration, and I shall gladly welcome any suggestion with the view of giving greater security to our mining population.
ME. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
I beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether ho can state the number of lives lost in the terrible colliery disaster at the Morfa Colliery, Port Talbot, and how many bodies have been recovered; whether he can give information to the House as to the cause of the explosion; whether his attention has been called to the fact that Daniel Broun- 712 sell, one of the persons who volunteered his services as an explorer, has met with his death in the work of exploration; and whether he can do anything to obtain pecuniary assistance for the relatives of the deceased?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
According to the last information I have received the number of lives lost is, I regret to say, 87. I am not yet able to state the cause of the explosion. That will be matter for subsequent and most careful investigation. It is the fact that the explorer Brounsell is dead. In disasters of this kind noble efforts to rescue are made by volunteers; but there is no fund out of which the Government can afford assistance to the families of those who perish. Pecuniary help can only be obtained through the charity of individuals, and I hope it may be forthcoming in deserving cases of this nature.
§ MR. S. EVANS
Has it come to the knowledge of the right hon. Gentleman that the manager or overlooker had an open lamp with him at the time of the explosion?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I have seen that statement in the newspapers; but I have received no official information on the point.
§ MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
Can the right hon. Gentleman state the character of the lamps used in these collieries? Were they safety lamps?